Archive for U.S.Senate

Not news: Republicans could slide even further with women, Latinos

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Women and Latinos do not trust Republicans. Oops, sorry, Captain Obvious got hold of my keyboard again. But he's right, which is also obvious:

obvious

And those are only two of the most recent headlines. The GOP's history of misogyny and racism is appalling, and their efforts to deny their fellow human beings equal rights is disgusting.

Republicans have sworntogod that they want to broaden their appeal. Oh really? Well, if their relentless assault on women's reproductive rights, gay rights, voting rights, and their treatment of undocumented (and documented!) immigrants (or anyone else, for that matter) who don't look or sound like them is the barometer, then they're in deep trouble.

They're still saying exactly the same old thing about the same old things. Reed Galen, a GOP strategist in Orange County who also worked for Bush said, "If we want that number to grow, we have to find ways to talk to Latinos about the issues we all care about." How many Republicans have made identical comments? And how many have actually followed through, or even done the opposite? Exactly.

Remember their post-2012 election "autopsy"? That reinvention they keep promising... not so much. How's that reachy-outy, makeovery thing workin' for ya, GOP?

The Los Angeles Times takes it from here:

Donnelly, the GOP front-runner according to public opinion polls, has stood by his 2006 speech, delivered when he was leader in the volunteer Minuteman border-patrol organization. In it, he said illegal immigration would lead to a fight comparable to the Civil War. [...]

"I am not backing away from the fact that we are in a war," Donnelly told reporters in Sacramento on Tuesday, after reports of the speech caused an outcry. He said he did not believe the remarks would hurt his prospects among Latino voters.

See how they've changed?

The Pelosi flap on the new Breitbart CA website prompted House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield to ask that his column be taken off the site.

Republican strategists said that while the imagery was "problematic," they viewed it as less significant than the immigration issue.

So the problems with their antiquated policies, views, and (mis)treatment of women are "less significant." Not right up there on their To Do list. Got it.

Keep up the good work, guys. If it weren't for dirty tricks and gerrymandering, they wouldn't stand a chance in 2014. And don't even get me started on the Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires...

UPDATE: New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line. 'Nuff said.

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Republicans block equal pay bill for third time

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Once again, Republicans block a Democratic bill, this time one that would help women by finally giving them equal pay and closing the wage gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act was filibustered (surprise!) by the GOP. Not that President Obama's passionate support had anything to do with it, right?

Way to expand on those outreach efforts, guys!

The Democrats will certainly use this to their advantage in the midterm elections. The Hill:

Democrats have benefited from a gender gap at the polls, and the party hopes that by emphasizing certain issues they’ll be positioned to take advantage in November.

Majority Leader Harry Reid had this to say: “Are Republicans in the Senate so repulsed by equal pay for hard-working American women that they can’t even stomach the thought of debating the issue?”

Not nearly as repulsed as women are by misogynistic Republicans in the Senate... and elsewhere.

Via Roll Call:

Sixty votes were needed to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor, but Republicans refused to allow the bill to come up for debate after complaining Democrats weren’t allowing votes on their amendments. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, broke with his typical party leanings and voted with Republicans against cloture.  The vote was 53-44, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., joining Republicans as a “no” in order to preserve his right to reconsider the vote.

No Republican voted with the Democrats. Three Republicans did not vote: Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Cornyn of Texas and Ted Cruz of Texas.

strike three you're out

This is Strike Three for Republicans, who also blocked debate on equal pay back in 2010 and 2012.

Are you ready for a couple of the amendments that the GOP offered up? Grab some Tums and start chewing in 5...4...3...2...1...

Some other GOP amendments would have repealed parts of ObamaCare and forced the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline

What, no Benghazi!!!! ?
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How Pres. Obama could be forced to put tea party judge on federal bench

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If the notion of a tea party judge being nominated to a seat on the federal bench makes you sick to your stomach, raise your hand.

raise hand pick me smaller

The thought of yet another ultra-conservative judge-- a right wing extremist tea party judge at that-- making decisions that affect all of us, is disturbing. What's even more disturbing is that Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), can do something about it... and he may choose not to. Which means, President Obama may be forced to put such a tea party judge on the bench in Pennsylvania, in this case David J. Porter, Rick Santorum’s former lawyer.

I repeat: Rick Santorum's former lawyer. Worried yet?

I sure am. Think Progress has the story:

The reason why a Democratic president would even consider nominating Porter to a seat on the federal bench is a Senate tradition known as the “blue slip.” A relic of a patronage system largely dismantled during the Carter and Reagan Administrations, the blue slip tradition allows home-state senators to effectively veto any judicial nominee to a federal judgeship in their state. [...]

As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has the unilateral ability to eliminate the blue slip today if he chose to, though he has thus far refused to do so. Indeed, one of Leahy’s Republican predecessors, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), largely did just that when he was Judiciary Chair and George W. Bush was president.

Follow the link for more. It's up to you, Sen. Leahy. You alone have the power to do the right thing.

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All you need to know about Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in one sentence: VIDEO

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David Vitter 2014

I've written about GOP Senator David Vitter so often that I'm pretty sure-- due to my ingestion alone-- I've single-handedly increased the stock value of Tums, Pepto Bismol, and Alka-Seltzer. In fact, he sickens me so much that I dubbed him "the Vitter Pill," because he's just that. Hard. To take.

As you may recall, David Vitter favors corporations over sexual assault victims; he wants to defund Planned Parenthood; he was subpoenaed by the D.C. Madam and he (allegedly) has a diaper fetish. But despite his illegal sexcapades, the Republican party of "family values" has forgiven him for his sins and kept him in office.

Too bad they weren't as willing to be that generous with former President Bill Clinton, right? But that's another post for another time.

Right now, take a few seconds to watch this video. It tells you all you need to know about Senator David Vitter's so-called "values":

Here is the transcript of the words that oozed out of the mouth of David Vitter. He said them at a town hall meeting at Blanchard Elementary School on March 18, 2014, and-- wait for it-- he got applause. Grab the Pepto, here we go:

"I think the Koch brothers are two of the most patriotic Americans on the face of the Earth."

"... God bless the Koch brothers. They're fighting for our freedoms."

Or to put it another way, God bless Citizens United, the appalling influence of dark money, the demolition of democracy, and slime.

vitter pillH/t: HuffPo

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Torture worse than waterboarding: Inside the Senate report on CIA interrogations

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Did you know that waterboarding was the "least worst" method of torture used on high-value detainees by the CIA under the Bush administration's watch?

My dear friend and one of the best investigative reporters out there, Jason Leopold, went on Nicole Sandler's radio show just before my weekly spot. He's a tough act to follow, especially when he reveals what the corporate "news" media won't touch with a ten-foot ad buy. Which is why you haven't heard about the "not legally authorized" torture "techniques" that will likely turn many American stomachs once details are finally (if ever) made public.

Now, because Jason has made such good and plentiful use of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), he is being called a "FOIA terrorist" and has had to deal with considerable blowback from some very powerful people in very powerful places. IMHO, the reason they feel so "terrorized" is that they're scared to death of Jason's reporting and the truths he brings to light.

Here are a few excerpts from Jason's Al Jazeera America piece:

A still-classified report on the CIA's interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee's report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush's Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee's analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques. [...]

Even before accessing the documents, committee staffers received crucial information in a briefing from former FBI agent Ali Soufan in early 2008, according to Al Jazeera’s sources. Soufan — who now runs a private security and intelligence consultancy — told the staffers that he had kept meticulous notes about the methods used by a psychologist under CIA contract to interrogate Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand after his capture in Pakistan in March of 2002. Soufan's account, the staffers say, shows that torture techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah even before some had been sanctioned as permissible by the Bush administration. [...]

Two Senate staffers told Al Jazeera that the Panetta documents question the Bush administration claims about the efficacy of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and the staffers noted that some of the techniques to which he was subjected early in his captivity had not yet been authorized.

Jason explained that the previously undisclosed torture methods made waterboarding seem like the least ghastly practice by comparison... and perhaps that's why the public focus was (intentionally) on waterboarding. See the shiny, inhumane keys? Now move along.

You can hear Jason talk about these revelations in his own words here (podcast). And please read his entire Al Jazeera post here. Where you will not read, hear, or see any references to Jason Leopold's reporting is in the corporate "mainstream" media. Maybe we can all use our social media skills to force the press into covering his work. Wouldn't that be novel?

torture

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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) holds big lead over Scott Brown (R-Bqhatevwr)

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scott brown tweet  bqhatevwr

Hey, did you hear the one where Scott Brown of Massachusetts is now pretending to be from New Hampshire so he and his truck can run for the U.S. Senate? He blew it big time when he lost badly in Massachusetts back in 2012. Just ask Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Ooo! Ooo! And remember how Scott Brown was really, really proud to be from Massachusetts? Me too! Ari Melber, take it away:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Now Scott Brown is running against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and he has fewer than eight months to overcome her double digit lead, as well as convince New Hampshire voters-- to quote former witch, Christine O'Donnell-- "I'm you."

So far this appears to be their resounding response: Bqhatevwr.

Via American Research Group:

If the 2014 election for US Senate were being held today between Scott Brown, the Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat, for whom would you vote - Brown or Shaheen? (names rotated):

chart Jean Shaheen v Scott Brown 2014

Among registered voters who are undecided about how President Obama is doing his job (they account for only 9% of those registered), Shaheen has a huge lead, 73% to Brown's 7% (20% are undecided).

The breakdown goes a little something like this: Brown appeals more to GOP voters and men (Wait, aren't the two synonymous?), but Shaheen is preferred by independents and women.

More here.

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"Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?"

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Senator Feinstein Dianne Feinstein CIA

Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, Senator Feinstein Hypocrisy Edition, because our voices matter:

Re "CIA denies Senate spying claim," March 12

Anyone who fails to appreciate the supreme irony of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) righteous indignation over the CIA's alleged spying on and undermining of the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which Feinstein is chair) has not been paying attention.

For years, she has been one of the intelligence community's most steadfast champions, deflecting criticism of the surveillance state, attacking whistle-blowers and justifying nearly every abuse. Her tenure at the spy community's ultimate oversight body, tasked with safeguarding the public interest, has seen that institution perform as something between a star chamber and a cheerleading squad.

Only when the monster she helped create might have turned against her does she seem to remember something called the Constitution. Is it any wonder that Congress is held in utter contempt by the people?

Mark McCormick

Los Angeles

***

In January, a Times news article described Feinstein as "a key defender of the National Security Agency's data tracking program." Now, just two months later, Feinstein is riled up about the national security apparatus, but only because she believes it turned a jaundiced eye on Senate staffers.

Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?

Frankly, I believe she and her supporters should be ashamed of her hypocrisy. Of course, this includes The Times, which endorsed Feinstein in 2012, stating clearly that "endorsing her for another term is an easy call."

Paul Marsden

Garden Grove

***

Feinstein's committee found documents showing that President Bush's torture program was far more barbaric than previously revealed and far less effective than claimed. This controversy is really about the CIA hiding potential crimes from Feinstein's committee.

CIA Director John Brennan endorsed torture and rendition under Bush. As director, he has kept the lid on the truth. He should be fired.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report needs to be declassified, and if the U.S. won't pursue possible war criminals, the International Criminal Court should.

But under Bush, the U.S. refused to be under the court's jurisdiction. The Obama administration has since renewed a relationship with the court, but Senate ratification is needed for the ICC to do what no one in this country has the stomach to do.

It is the president's job to ask the Senate for ratification. Shame on us all if he does not.

Richard Green

San Clemente

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