Tag Archives: Nancy Pelosi

Congressional shooting produces a glimmer of hope

It’s only a glimmer, a flicker, a slight flash of light.

It might not last past the first serious floor debate in either chamber of Congress. However, the two leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are saying something about unity, about common good, about patriotism and love of country.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today pledged to get the House to work more closely together, to set partisanship aside whenever possible. Their pledge came in the wake of that frightening shooting in Alexandria, in which House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured critically by a gunman who wounded four others before being shot to death by Capital police officers.

A ‘kumbaya’ moment?

Dear reader, we have entered a dangerous time in American political history. The shooter reportedly was highly critical of Donald J. Trump; he also reportedly had some sort of hard feelings against Rep. Scalise, who appeared to be his primary target at that baseball practice field where Republican lawmakers were preparing for their annual charity game against Democratic colleagues.

As near as I can tell, this about the only good thing to come from this terrible event. I am praying, along with the rest of the nation, for the victims’ full recovery. Yes, the police responded with valor and gallantry; the lawmakers who rushed to Rep. Scalise’s aid also performed heroically.

I will await the outcome of Ryan and Pelosi’s pledge to work together, to put the bitterness aside, to argue civilly but maintain respect for each other’s side, their point of view … and appreciate the other’s love of country.

What a shame, though, that it took an even such as this to possibly make them reach this point.

Congressman gets a taste of retribution

What in the world do you make of this?

U.S. Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson went home to his South Carolina congressional district, sought to conduct a town hall meeting with constituents, and was given a healthy dose of the treatment he tossed at then-President Barack Obama.

Wilson, a Republican, infamously shouted “You lie!” at the president during a televised speech to a joint session of Congress. He received a stern look from then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden at that heated moment.

Wilson received bipartisan scolding

As Mother Jones reported: “In 2009, Wilson was the subject of bipartisan condemnation after he interrupted Obama’s address to Congress by calling him a liar when the president said his proposed health care plan wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants. The congressman was forced to apologize for violating congressional decorum with the heckling, but he benefited in the end: Shortly after the incident, an aide confirmed Wilson had raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions thanks to the outburst.”

Well, he was telling constituents this week about how hard he has worked to deter violence against women. The response from the crowd? A chorus of “You lie!”

Wilson stepped away from the microphone as the chants continued, which was something the president couldn’t do when the congressman shouted the epithet while sitting among his congressional colleagues.

Payback can be a bitch. Can’t it, congressman?

GOP turns tables on Democrats

John Boehner was a year away from becoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, but he stood on the floor of the House to express his intense anger at his Democratic colleagues.

They were rushing the Affordable Care Act into law, the then-House minority leader declared. Democrats were shoving this “down our throats,” he hollered. He bellowed that no one had “read the bill!”

The ACA passed with no Republican votes.

Now the GOP is in charge of Congress. Boehner became speaker in 2011 and served until 2015. Republicans sought to repeal the ACA many times during Boehner’s tenure. They failed.

Now it’s Paul Ryan’s House. Speaker Ryan is working with a Republican president to enact something called the American Health Care Act.

What is the GOP strategy being mapped out by Ryan and Donald Trump. Why, they’re trying to rush this to a vote. They’re trying to “shove this down the throats” of conservative lawmakers who oppose it. They aren’t bothering to persuade Democrats, who are lined up en masse to oppose the AHCA, just as the GOP locked arms against the ACA in 2010.

Is it good enough now for Republicans to do the very thing they accused Democrats — with good reason, candidly — of doing?

Of course it isn’t!

The president declared that repealing and replacing the ACA was his top priority. The House was supposed to vote tonight on the AHCA. Ryan backed away from the vote. It’s now scheduled for Friday.

The president says a Friday vote — up or down — will be the end of his negotiating a replacement for the ACA. He said today he’s going to “move on” to other issues. Whether he does will depend on who gets to him. Trump does have this way of changing his mind.

Has there been sufficient comment and analysis on this Republican alternative to ACA, which was trotted out less than a month ago?

Nope. Not even close.

One difference between now and 2010: You aren’t going to hear the current House minority leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, screaming on the House floor about not having enough time to consider this health care insurance replacement. Rep. Pelosi is actually chuckling at what she calls the president’s “rookie mistakes.”

That’s the major difference. The tactics of today’s Republicans certainly resemble those employed by yesterday’s Democrats.

A congressional breakthrough … maybe?

Pelosi-Ryan-jpg

A single dinner involving two political leaders of opposing parties likely doesn’t signal much all by itself.

It might portend a potential thaw in relations on Capitol Hill. I reiterate … it might.

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., invited House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to his Capitol Hill office for a two-hour get-together. They had a meal in the office and talked a little shop and got to know each other a little better.

What does this mean?

It might be a precursor to some actual progress in Congress between political leaders who’ve been fighting each other — often using some intemperate language to describe the other sides’ motives and intentions.

Democrats and Republicans are battling at the moment over a new budget. They did manage to cobble together a five-day stopgap measure that keeps the government running … but only for a short time. More bargaining is due in the next few days for everyone to agree on a $1.1 trillion federal budget that funds the government through most of next year.

Oh yeah. It’s also an election year.

Ryan and Pelosi reportedly don’t know each other well. This meal in Ryan’s office was billed as sort of an ice-breaker.

Where do we go from here? That remains anyone’s guess.

Congress, though, needs to figure out a way to assert its constitutional responsibility to actually govern. There’s been too much fighting between the parties, not to mention between the majority party — that would be the Republicans — and the White House.

The president must share responsibility in this ongoing inability to find common ground. However, just as members of Congress want to take credit for the good things that happen, they also need to take responsibility for the negative occurrences.

Ryan and Pelosi likely aren’t going to become best friends forever — aka BFFs. A dinner, though, well might set the stage for a new working relationship that restores the concept of good government to Capitol Hill.

Scalia recuse himself from race cases? Not a chance

pelosi

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is angry at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

She’s mad at remarks that Scalia made during oral arguments involving an affirmative case involving the University of Texas. Scalia contended that African-American students might not do as well academically at UT as they would in “slower-track schools.” The statement has drawn much criticism against the outspoken justice.

Pelosi thinks Scalia now must recuse himself from future discrimination cases because of his bias.

Let’s hold on, Mme. Minority Leader.

Don’t misunderstand me. I dislike Scalia’s world view as much as the next progressive. But calling for him to recuse himself from these cases goes way too far. According to Politico: “It’s so disappointing to hear that statement coming from a justice of the Supreme Court. It clearly shows a bias,” Pelosi said. “I think that the justice should recuse himself from any case that relates to discrimination in education, in voting, and I’m sorry that he made that comment.”

Consider something from our recent past.

The highest court in the land once included two justices who were philosophically opposed to capital punishment. The late Justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan voted automatically in favor of capital defendants’ death sentence appeals. If a death row inmate’s case made it to the Supreme Court, he or she could depend on at least two votes in favor of the appeal.

In fact, Justice Marshall was particularly blunt about it. He said repeatedly that he opposed capital punishment, yet he took part in those appeals.

Did he ever recuse himself? Did pro-death penalty forces make the case that he should? No to the first; and unlikely to the second.

Federal judges — and includes the nine individuals who sit on the highest court — all have lifetime jobs. That’s how the Constitution set it up. Presidents appoint then; the Senate confirms them and then they are free to vote their conscience.

Scalia need not recuse himself. He is free — as he has been since President Reagan appointed him to the court in 1986 — to speak his mind. He has done so with remarkable candor — and even occasionally with some callousness — ever since.

 

Who’s in charge of U.S. foreign policy?

cotton

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., thinks it’s OK to travel abroad and to meet with a foreign head of government for the purpose of undermining a key foreign policy initiative.

It’s not OK. At least it’s never been acceptable … apparently until now in some circles.

Cotton went to Israel and Is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to figure out a way to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the United States and five other great powers.

Cotton’s meeting with Netanyahu now has become the norm, it seems, for critics of President Obama. They forget what they said when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria to meet with dictator Bashar al-Assad. Vice President Dick Cheney reminded us then that only the president can conduct foreign policy.

Except that Pelosi coordinated her visit with Bush administration officials and had made sure she didn’t interfere with what President Bush’s goals were as they regarded U.S. policy toward Assad.

Cotton said: “Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal. I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”

We’ve only got one president of the United States at a time. And at this moment, it isn’t Tom Cotton.

 

No term limits, please

Harry Reid’s announcement that he’s retiring from the U.S. Senate is going to prompt the predictable calls for term limits for members of Congress.

I’ve heard some yammering from my network of social media friends.

Many of them favor term limits, thinking apparently that voters of various states and congressional districts aren’t smart enough to determine whether their elected representatives are doing a good job for them.

One of my pals — who I am certain echoes the views of others on the right — thinks Sen. John McCain, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and probably dozens of other congresspeople need to hit the road right along with Reid.

My friend is mistaken.

Republican bomb-thrower Newt Gingrich led the revolutionary Contract With America insurgency in 1994. Republicans took control of both congressional chambers, Gingrich became speaker of the House and Congress sought to limit the terms of its members. It has failed every time.

The one aspect of term limits that I favor has been enacted by the GOP House caucus, which limits the number of terms that House members can serve as committee chairs; Democrats ought to follow suit, but that’s a congressional rules decision.

Voters back home — including those in Nevada who’ve kept sending the Democrat Reid back to the Senate — have the right to decide who they want representing their interests in Washington.

Harry Reid did that for Nevadans. He’s now calling it a career. Good for him.

Term limits? We have them already. They’re called “elections.”

 

Speaker gets past this rocky road

House Speaker John Boehner has had more fun than what he experienced the past couple of weeks.

It’s been like, well, herding cats. His Republican caucus all but went into apoplexy over a plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security. The TEA party wing of the caucus remained dead set against it. Other Republicans joined with Democrats to fund DHS until September.

Without the money, DHS would have had to shut down; 30,000 federal employees would have been furloughed.

Crisis is averted. For now.

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/234467-house-approves-dhs-funding

The speaker’s difficulty with his the TEA party cabal is far from over. I’ll just suggest that his fear will be that they’ll be so angry with him they might try to launch an intraparty insurrection to get Boehner removed from his post.

Who would get the gavel? Louie Gohmert, the East Texas chucklehead? Would it be Steve Scalise, the majority whip from Louisiana who once spoke to a David Duke-sponsored outfit?

My hunch is that Boehner will survive any possible rebellion.

But the vote to fund DHS now allows the House of Representatives to get on with more serious matters. Lawmakers ought to focus on things such as, oh, a budget, infrastructure legislation, some national security issues. You know, the stuff to which they all signed on to do on behalf of all Americans.

I’m glad the deal was struck. Boehner actually worked with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the despised former speaker. That, by itself, might be cause for the TEA party wing of the GOP to break out the pitchforks and torches.

Isn’t governing fun, Mr. Speaker?

Yes, Mme. Leader, it was a 'wave'

Nancy Pelosi needs a reality check.

The House of Representatives Democratic leader says the Republican sweep in the midterm election didn’t constitute a “wave.” She said voters weren’t endorsing GOP policies and its agenda.

“There was no wave of approval for the Republicans. I wish them congratulations, they won the election, but there was no wave of approval for anybody. There was an ebbing, an ebb tide, for us,” she said.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/nancy-pelosi-112799.html?hp=b3_r2

As much as I hate to disagree with the minority leader, she’s wrong, mistaken, misguided, or just plain ignorant. OK, I doubt the “ignorant” part.

What happened Nov. 4 was a wave.

The GOP needed to flip six seats to gain control of the Senate; it got eight and is poised to win a ninth seat if the Louisiana runoff in December ends up in Republicans’ favor. Republicans also won 12 additional House seats, cementing their control of the lower chamber. The GOP also gained governorships across the nation.

That’s a wave, Mme. Leader.

All is not lost for Democrats. They have a decent chance in 2016 of getting the Senate back — but only if a couple of things happen.

First, the turnout has to improve dramatically from the dismal midterm turnout, which figured to work in Republicans’ favor. We’ll be electing a new president in two years and the turnout for these elections always dwarfs the previous election. That means more of the Democratic base — namely minorities and lower-income Americans — will be motivated to vote.

What’s more, a large number of Republican Senate seats will be on the line, giving Democrats a legitimate chance of picking off a few incumbents, or capturing seats that Republican incumbents will surrender through retirement.

Second, the Republican majority in both congressional chambers stands a fair chance of bungling this opportunity to actually govern. If they shut down the government later this month, or if they actually launch impeachment proceedings against the president over his use of executive authority, well, the blowback could be fearsome.

However, that does not diminish the importance of what happened just a few days ago.

Democrats got swept out of power in a political wave.

 

Affordable Care Act sabatoged from within

Who is this clown Jonathan Gruber?

We know he’s got a big mouth and that he’s careless beyond belief about what he says to whom.

Gruber’s name has surfaced front and center over remarks he made regarding the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/224072-gruber-in-fourth-video-says-public-doesnt-actually-care-about-uninsured

He was recorded saying in 2013 that he considered Americans too stupid to understand the complexities of the landmark health care legislation pushed forward by President Obama. Now we hear him saying in 2010 that Americans “don’t actually care that much about the uninsured.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supposedly said she didn’t know about Gruber until this firestorm erupted. Then we hear from other sources that she isn’t being truthful about who she knew and when she knew him.

Good grief!

Republicans naturally are up in arms over these revelations about a former White House insider popping off as he has done. Some critics say Gruber’s big mouth gives them ammunition to finally — finally! — muster up the votes to dismantle the president’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Let’s hold on.

The ACA is working. Americans who didn’t have insurance have it now. The law has been upheld by the highest court in America. Key Republicans have joined Democrats in declaring that the ACA is going to stay on the books.

So now some clown shoots off his mouth and that turns a law that’s working into one that’s not?

I think not.