Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

GOP caucus leaders render Rep. King useless . . . good!

A resignation might not be too far off for U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican with a big mouth but, more importantly, repugnant views about white supremacy and white nationalism.

The House of Representatives GOP leadership has just stripped King of all his committee assignments. He will not serve on a single committee during the 116th Congress, a move that renders him essentially useless. He’ll get to vote on issues that come to a full floor vote, but he will not have any substantial input in crafting legislation that committees prepare prior to that vote.

What prompted this unusual move? King managed to reveal once again that he is no friend of ethnic or racial minorities. He said during a New York Times interview that he couldn’t understand why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became “offensive language.”

No kidding? He didn’t understand it? Those terms became “offensive” when groups that carried those labels lynched African-Americans and brutalized other non-white, non-Christian Americans.

This idiocy is not the first time King has been linked to these hideous groups and their beliefs. The GOP House leadership has had enough of their colleague.

Now he ought to take the next logical step, having been stripped of any committee assignments in the People’s House.

Steve King should resign and go home.

How do these politicians rise so quickly?

Call it one of the great mysteries of American political life.

People get elected to a governing body, such as Congress, and some of them — usually just a handful of them — rise immediately to the top of our national attention.

They’re everywhere. They emerge from a crowd of 535 individuals serving in the Senate and the House. They can’t find their way to the restroom, but they sure can find a TV camera and the media attach themselves to these individuals, chronicling their every move, every utterance, everything about them.

And this is before they actually cast any votes!

The Congressional Freshman Class of 2019 is no exception to this rule.

You have the well-known politician, such as Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican. We all know Mitt. He ran for president and was the GOP nominee in 2012. Mitt took office with an established political profile, lots of name ID. He’s already a heavy hitter. He wrote an op-ed criticizing the president and he made fans among Democrats and a collected a few more critics among Republicans. If he were a no-name, no one would have cared what he said about Donald Trump.

Then you have the pol who jumps out of the tall grass and becomes well-known and over-reported for reasons that don’t quite compute. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, fits that description. She knocked off an establishment Democrat, Rep. Joe Crowley, in the state primary. Then she breezed to election this past fall. She’s a socialist. She wants to levy huge taxes on rich people.

The media report on everything she says and does. She is, to use the phrase, “telegenic,” meaning that she’s attractive. She is young and energetic.

She’s been in office for all of three days and she’s already a star. Why? Beats the bejabbers out me, man.

Oh, and then you have Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who dropped an f-bomb while saying she wants to impeach the president. She, too, has made a name for herself — already! Enough on her, for now.

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz rose quickly to the top of our attention in 2013 when he took office. He took on the posture of an ambitious man who sought higher office. He ran for president in 2016 and was among the last men standing as Donald Trump won the GOP nomination. Again, as with Ocasio-Cortez, I am baffled as to why the Cruz Missile got the publicity he got. But he did.

And so the new Congress begins work. It has its returning “legends in their own minds,” and actual legends. It has its share of those who want to become legendary. Some of them will get there eventually. Some even might actually deserve to attain that lofty status.

Still, we have that great unexplainable: How do some of these individuals manage to insert themselves into every political conversation before they actually do anything?

Yep, some of us do care that she swore

I had to look this guy up before offering a comment on what he had to say. Mikel Jollett, I learned, is a musician and author, who is best known as the front man for an indie rock group called Airborne Toxic Event.

Now with that out of the way, I want to declare that I happen to care that a freshman congresswoman swore when she called for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. I do not support the president of the United States; I didn’t vote for what he calls a “racist sexual predator.”

The basis for my caring about Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s foul mouth is two-fold.

First, she is a brand new member of Congress who sought to make a name for herself right out of the chute. Mission accomplished. All she had to say was that she believes Democrats are going to “impeach the motherfu***r.” Washington is all abuzz over what she said.

Second, she could have made precisely that point without using the gutter language. I get that Trump has said all of that. He trash talks with the best of ’em. I am acutely aware of his history, of the language he has used to describe how he treats women. I am aware of the misogynistic nature of his comments.

None of that — zero! — justifies the use of the language that a heretofore virtually unknown rookie member of Congress has used to highlight (or lowlight) what she hopes happens within the halls of Congress.

I do not want the newly empowered Democratic Party congressional caucus to slide into the gutter occupied by Donald Trump and so many members of his “base.”

As for Mikel Jollett — whoever he is — the young man should cease assuming that “nobody cares” that an “incoming congresswoman” swore. He is mistaken.

Is there a ‘woodshed’ in Rep. Tlaib’s future?

Wouldn’t you know it? A rookie member of the U.S. House of Representatives blurts out a profane declaration, about how House Democrats are going to “impeach the mother***er” and fellow Democrats start expressing their anger at this upstart.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has made her mark immediately. It’s not a pretty mark. She was seeking to fire up a crowd of progressive activists when she offered the foul-mouthed pledge to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Democrats getting angry

Other Democrats are upset that Tlaib has overturned their efforts to orchestrate an orderly transition to power in the House, now that they are in the majority. They don’t want to rush into what might turn out to be a foolish act if they seek impeachment before knowing all the facts related to the myriad issues at hand.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to file his report soon on his probe into “The Russia Thing.” Loudmouths like Tlaib are getting way ahead of themselves.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who calls impeachment a “last resort” — might need to escort the young freshman lawmaker to the proverbial “woodshed” for a woman-to-woman chat about how things get done in the People’s House. She ought to rethink her hands-off approach to Democratic caucus members’ fiery rhetoric.

It reminds of a time many years ago when a whipper-snapper U.S. senator named Rick Santorum sought to challenge one of the Senate’s elders about legislating.

The late Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. He decided to vote against a defense bill to pay for a new nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Corpus Christi. Why the objection? Hatfield was a deeply religious man and he didn’t like the idea of a weapon of war carrying a name that translated from the Latin means “Body of Christ.” Santorum, a newly elected Republican from Pennsylvania, raised a stink about it and sought to have Hatfield removed from his key committee chairmanship.

One of the GOP Senate elders, Bob Dole of Kansas, took Santorum aside and said, in effect, “Young man, don’t even think about challenging Mark Hatfield.”

Santorum backed off.

There ought to be a similar scolding in Rep. Tlaib’s future as well.

That’s no way to talk, Rep. Potty Mouth

Consider this blog post an addendum to the previous post I wrote on High Plains Blogger. I had counseled the freshman Democratic House class about rushing to impeach Donald J. Trump, imploring them to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller to release the findings of his investigation into “The Russia Thing.”

Then this item emerged overnight.

Newly sworn in U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, exhorted her followers by declaring the House Democratic caucus intends to “impeach the motherfu**er!”

The epithet is aimed at the president of the United States of America.

Do I really need to inform this young, newly minted U.S. lawmaker about “decorum” and “dignity”? I don’t . . . but I will!

The tone and tenor of our political discourse has gotten pretty ugly in recent years. The nation does not need to hear filthy epithets spewed from members of Congress, especially newbies who don’t know their way around the halls of the Capitol Building, let alone around the halls of power within that grand and noble structure.

Tlaib already has made history by becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and by being the first Palestinian-American to win a seat there.

However, my advice to the young lawmaker is this: Knock off the tough talk, settle down, set up your office and get to work on¬† your constituents’ needs, wants and demands. They sent you there to do their work, not to make an a** of yourself.

The political divide shows itself in Congress

So much of the commentary I heard today about the incoming U.S. Congress dealt with the dramatic difference in the physical appearance of the two major parties’ caucuses.

House of Representatives Republicans were mostly white, mostly male, a homogeneous group of lawmakers; the same can be said of the Senate GOP caucus.

Then we had the House Democratic caucus. Many more men and women of “color”; there was a Muslim woman dressed in her hijab; indeed, there were many more females than one could see in the GOP side of the House chamber.

Democrats have taken control of the House. Nancy Pelosi is the new speaker. She remains the only woman ever to hold that job; she was speaker from 2007 until 2011.

I am struck by the notion that the Democratic Party resembles the public at large far more than the Republican Party. The term of art is “diversity.” Democrats have a much more “diverse” look than their Republican colleagues.

I also recall after the 2012 presidential election that Republicans who thought that the party nominee Mitt Romney was going to defeat President Obama assembled for what was called a “post mortem” evaluation. They decided that the party needs to do a better job of outreach to women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities.

Based on what we all witnessed today as the new Congress took office, the GOP still has lots of work to do, many miles to travel before it achieves its goal.

It still is remarkable in the extreme that Democrats defeated Republicans in traditionally stalwart GOP congressional districts; such as in Orange County, Calif., which has gone from virtually all Republican to entirely Democratic. Go . . . figure!

I want both major political parties to be more reflective of the nation. Today’s images from Capitol Hill tell me that only one of them has succeeded in that effort.

‘It would make me look foolish’

A statement attributed to Donald Trump screams loudly to us at a couple of levels.

The president said that accepting a deal to reopen the entire federal government from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer would “make me look foolish.”

I’ll set aside the snickering that developed at the idea that the president long ago began looking “foolish” by uttering the things he says and doing the things he does.

The idea of negotiating a deal with House and Senate Democrats is not a “foolish” gesture. Brokering such a deal would be the result of compromise, which is an essential element of good, smart and effective governance.

As I heard Speaker Pelosi today when she took the gavel from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, I thought I heard her say she planned to return a Republican-sponsored and endorsed measure to the Senate; she intends to force senators to vote on a measure they already have approved and which the president pledged initially to sign into law.

You know what happened. When the president made that pledge, which included agreeing to sign a bill that didn’t provide money for The Wall, right-wing talkers went nuts. They accused him of betraying the GOP base. Hearing that, Trump back-pedaled. He reversed himself. He stuck a shiv in the back of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom said the president would support the spending bill that passed the Senate by a virtually unanimous vote.

Foolish? Does that make Donald Trump look foolish? Yeah. It does.

The bigger issue is whether he’s willing to wheel and deal with Democrats.

Pelosi said she wants senators to re-endorse the measure they already have backed. The pressure now is on them and on the president.

Negotiation is part of legislating. It’s part of governing. It is the essence of how you move the country forward.¬†Refusing to consider a compromise is the prescription for looking “foolish.”

Wishing the new Congress well as it gets to work

This picture was published today in The New York Times, which wrote a feature on the new Congress that takes office today.

The photo illustrates the new look. On the left are nine new Democratic members; nine new Republicans are on the right.

I see a Muslim woman, a well-known self-proclaimed socialist and an Asian among the Democrats. I notice a wounded veteran of the Iraq War, a former Florida governor and the 2012 GOP presidential nominee on the right.

They join a House of Representatives that will be under Democratic control for the first time since 2011. The Senate will be nominally more Republican than it was during the past two years.

They all face amazing challenges ahead. They have to find a way to reopen the government. Once they get that done, and let’s hope it is soon, they will deal with a whole array of knotty matters: immigration, climate change, judicial appointments, war and peace. Their plate will be heaping.

The House will comprise more women than ever. The number of veterans in both chambers is increasing, which also is a good thing.

So, let’s wish them all the best of luck. Let them also exhibit wisdom and discernment.

It’s time to get busy.

Trump v. Pelosi: May the better person win

Donald Trump apparently has difficulty with strong, opinionated women. I make that presumption based on how he reacts to their challenges to him. He resorts to insulting them with varying levels of disgusting references.

So it is against that backdrop that the president of the United States is entering a new era in his so-far futile attempt at learning how to govern. The Woman of the House will be Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who is returning to her post as speaker of the House, one half of the legislative branch of the federal government.

I have this sneaking, gnawing suspicion that the president is not going to do well as he battles Pelosi over legislative priorities.

You see, Pelosi is something that her immediate predecessor Paul Ryan is not. She is no patsy who is likely to roll over to demands from (a) the White House and (b) rebellious members of her own partisan caucus. Indeed, Ryan’s predecessor as speaker, John Boehner, quit the speakership and the House because he got fed up with the TEA Party wing of the GOP House caucus.

Pelosi certainly faces her own challenges from the far-left-wing base of her Democratic caucus. Do you think she’s going to knuckle under to its every demand? My gut tells me “no.” She is a stern leader, but one who also knows how to schmooze malcontents.

Trump possesses none of those political skills. He barks insults, makes demands and little happens. He gets on his Twitter feed and fires off policy pronouncements, surprising his own key aides and Cabinet. He calls himself a razzle-dazzle dealmaker, but couldn’t cobble together a deal to keep the government functioning even when he and his Republican Party controlled the entire Congress and the White House.

That’s is changing, effective today.

Nancy Pelosi will take the speaker’s gavel. Democrats will manage the legislative flow from the House. She will do battle when necessary with her GOP House “friends” as well as those who still control matters at the other end of the Capitol Building, the Senate.

Donald Trump will be whipsawed by the back-and-forth in the House.

Checks and balances, anyone?

Here we go!

Wishing the POTUS . . . luck in the new year

The new year is at hand. 2019 promises to be a doozy. Where it all goes remains anyone’s guess.

Of course I refer to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president of the United States. Mueller reportedly is getting ready to wrap it up and will present his findings to Congress and, hopefully, to the public.

No one knows what’s in the guts of his report. I do have this sense that it is going to present commentators, bloggers, pundits, editorial writers, columnists and just plain folks on all sides plenty of grist.

Whether it clears Trump of any misdeeds regarding his campaign and the Russians who interfered with our election or whether it implicates the president directly of wrong doing, the fecal matters is going to hit the fan.

Democrats are going to take the gavel in the U.S. House of Representatives later this week. Republicans will retain control of the U.S. Senate. Donald Trump will keep his fingers tightly on his Twitter buttons.

Most eyes will focus on how the Democrats respond to regaining control of one legislative chamber. Will they unleash the hounds on Trump? Will they churn out more subpoenas than we can count? Will they launch impeachment proceedings the moment Mueller’s report goes public? Will they even wait for Mueller’s report?

I would not want to be Donald Trump at this moment, not that I ever wanted to be Trump ever at any time!

The new year is going to present him with untold and unprecedented challenges. A guy who spent his entire adult life seeking to be master of his own destiny now finds himself at the mercy of others. Congress will be calling a lot of the shots now, once Robert Mueller finishes his examination and hands over his findings.

My feelings about the president are well-known to readers of this blog. I won’t waste my energy wishing him well.

I am left merely to wish him “luck” as he enters the new year along with the rest of us. It looks as though we’re headed for a rockin’ and rollin’ ride.