Tag Archives: Congress

Senate clears big bill

OK, so it doesn’t constitute a stunning bipartisan mandate, but it does demonstrate how Senate Republicans — once again — appear to be on the wrong side of history.

The U.S. Senate approved by the thinnest margin possible a procedural vote that clears the way for approval of a slimmed-down package that President Biden has been seeking to do a number of positive things for the economy.

The bill seeks to cut carbon emissions and help stem the changing climate; it seeks to pay for itself by raising taxes on the richest Americans; it seeks to lower drug costs, giving more Americans access to medication.

Harris breaks 50-50 deadlock to advance landmark climate, tax, health bill | The Hill

Hey, it’s a good package.

All 50 Senate Republicans voted “no.” All 50 Democrats voted “yes.” That left it to Vice President Harris to cast the deciding vote to send the measure on to a full vote sometime Sunday.

This is the same deal that was given up for dead when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin declared he couldn’t support it. Then the senator met with Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer to work out a pared-down version. Manchin changed his tune; the deal was back on the table.

This gives President Biden a much-need push toward keeping a major campaign promise, which was to help reduce the threat caused by climate change.

As for the Republicans, they continue to push policies that Americans do not support. How can they sustain that stubbornness going into the midterm election?

My hope is that they cannot.


Can’t we do better?

Surely you remember the time when we expected a lot more than usual from those we elect to represent our interests in, say, Congress.

I certainly do remember.

Today, we can scan the political horizon and find any number of nimrods, dipsh**s, fruitcakes and borderline psychos serving a the highest levels of government.

Since the Republican Party supposedly is on the ascent, I feel compelled to single out just a few GOP officeholders to make my point.

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is being investigated for having sex with underage girls; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia says the Constitution doesn’t really separate church and state; Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado has declared that this is a Christian nation; closer to home, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under felony indictment on securities fraud charges and is favored to win re-election to a third term as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

I just have to mention, if only briefly, that we elected a president of the United States who admits to sexually assaulting women, who says he’s never sought forgiveness for mistakes he has made, who has admitted to cheating on all three women he has married, who once said he “could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and never lose any voters.”

Politics is supposed to be a noble profession. These days it is being practiced by run-of-the-mill nut jobs.

Scary, man.


Verdict scores victory for Congress

Steve Bannon’s conviction today in a federal courtroom on two counts of contempt of Congress gives the lie to the notion that Congress lacks any way to enforce charges it brings against those who break the law.

The House select 1/6 committee had cited Bannon — a former key adviser to Donald Trump — for contempt of Congress when Bannon refused to answer a subpoena issued by the panel. Congress sent the matter to the Department of Justice, which then indicted Bannon.

The federal trial ended after just a few days and then delivered the goods to Bannon: Guilty on both counts!

Bannon the blowhard now faces two years — max! — in federal prison.

This is an important victory for the rule of law in this country. Steve Bannon sought to defy that rule by giving the House panel the finger in his refusal to testify about what he knew about the 1/6 insurrection.

The House panel, chaired by Democrat Bennie Thompson, instead turned to the DOJ, which is solely responsible for bringing criminal charges against those accused of federal crimes.

It had been fashionable to scoff at Congress’s efforts to make witnesses follow the rules. Important men and women have too often thumbed their noses at congressional committees, thinking that they don’t have to do what Congress orders them to do.

Today, the pendulum swung back in Congress’s favor.

I’m glad to see the verdict that delivered justice to someone who thought he was bigger than the law.


Let’s wait on the political obit

Before we start dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on President Biden’s political obituary in the wake of the upcoming midterm election, let’s revisit a couple of recent historical events … hmm?

President Clinton won election in 1992. The midterm election occurred in 1994 and you know what happened. Republicans took control of both congressional chambers for the first time in 40 years. They flipped dozens of House seats. Newt Gingrich became speaker.

What happened in the 1996 presidential election? Clinton won re-election in an Electoral College landslide.

OK, now let’s look quickly at what occurred in 2010. President Obama took office after the 2008 election. He had a Democratic Party majority in Congress. Then the 2010 midterm occurred. Republicans delivered what Obama called a “shellacking.” The GOP took control of Congress.

Oh, but wait! The 2012 election ended with President Obama winning re-election. The margin for Obama wasn’t as impressive as the victory scored by President Clinton.

So here we are today. President Biden and Democrats are facing strong headwinds moving toward this year’s midterm election. Republicans are poised to seize control of both congressional chambers. If they do, they will follow historical precedent.

Is that the end of the line for Joe Biden? Nope, not even …

You see, today’s GOP is now populated by election deniers, followers of the Big Lie fomented by the Liar in Chief. The GOP is fully capable of messing up what the voters appear ready to grant them, which is control of the legislative branch of government.

Given the quality of the rhetoric coming from the cultist who leads the Republican Party and the blind fealty to his blathering that his followers exhibit, I am betting President Biden and the Democrats won’t surrender anything.


Rule of law faces test

My fellow Americans, we are going to witness whether the “rule of law” means anything to members of Congress who have been summoned to appear before the House select committee examining the 1/6 insurrection.

The committee has subpoenaed five Republican congressman who were key allies to Donald J. Trump. The committee had asked them to appear voluntarily; they declined.

So, here come the lawful orders. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, along with GOP Reps. Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs all have been ordered to appear before the committee.

So, which is it? Are these dedicated Trumpkins going to comply with the rule of law, which they have at one time or another during their congressional careers said they honor? Or are they going to take one for their cult leader, The Donald?

The rule of law is as straightforward as it gets. A legally constituted congressional committee has issued a lawful order for five House members to talk to its members. Failure to comply with a lawful order should result in criminal punishment. Indeed, such a consequence anyone in the military who refuses to obey a lawful order. Your commanding officer tells you to do something, and you refuse? It’s off to the stockade where you would await adjudication of your offense.

I don’t know whether any or all of them will refuse to comply with the subpoena. Whoever says “no” to the House committee should face the potential consequence. The rule of law should stand in this instance as it should stand in all cases.

Let us never forget that each of these individuals swore an oath to keep faith with the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution is on the side of the committee that has acted lawfully.

We well might learn whether these congressmen were sincere when they said they would uphold the Constitution and whether their stated fealty to almighty God was real or false.


GOP pledges grim future

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate pledges to make life difficult for a Democratic president and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, we had better sit up and pay careful attention.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has a proven record of employing his enormous obstructive skills to block legitimate efforts to move the country forward if they will benefit the agenda being followed by the right wing of his party.

Republicans appear poised to take over control of Congress after this year’s midterm election. If they do, the rumbling we hear comes from those Republicans who intend to exact revenge on Democrats. It will come in the form of blocking appointments or derailing legislative proposals. Hell, it might even result in Republicans unplugging congressional investigations into the criminal activity perpetrated on 1/6 by the previous GOP president.

This isn’t how good government is supposed to work.

McConnell exhibited his obstructionist skill in February 2016 when, after Justice Antonin Scalia died, he blocked then-President Obama’s attempt to replace Scalia with a SCOTUS nominee. It was “too close” to a presidential election that at the time was months away, McConnell said. He played his hand skillfully, as the GOP nominee won the election that year and then was able to push through three SCOTUS picks before his term ended in 2021.

The final pick was rammed through the Senate just weeks before the 2020 election, which made McConnell’s “too close to the election” call in 2016 nothing more than a ruse.

Don’t bet your last bitcoin that Congress will flip from Democratic to Republican control this year. But in case it does, then we had better prepare ourselves for a politically bloody clash.

It won’t be pretty.


War grabs media’s attention

War has this way of grabbing everyone’s attention, even yanking other compelling stories off the front page, pushing them off the air, relegating them to “old news.”

So it is these days with a ground war erupting in Ukraine. Russian armed forces have invaded a neighboring, sovereign nation on the orders of dictator Vladimir Putin. Media around the world are reporting on it to us who want to know how this war will play out.

I am unsure how I feel about our limited attention span. I remain deeply interested in the congressional inquiry into the cause of the 1/6 insurrection. Moreover, I want to know how the House committee is progressing in its search for the truth. It will get there in due course and I plan to be waiting with bated breath when the panel reaches its finish line.

President Biden has an aggressive agenda to help boost our already-recovering economy. It is stalled in the Senate. I want to know whether the president can parlay his extensive legislative experience into working out a compromise that can push the Build Better Back bill — or some facsimile of it — to a fruitful conclusion.

There remains a boatload of issues to be resolved, if only congressional Republicans can find a way to work the Democratic president instead of obstructing him at every turn.

OK, so all of that will still be there once our attention looks elsewhere, once we remove our gaze from Ukraine. I want that moment to arrive sooner rather than later. Not because I lust for a chance to see all those matters resolve … but because I want an end to the bloodshed.


Awaiting the SOTU

Let’s look ahead — shall we? — to President Biden’s first State of the Union speech. He’ll get to stand before a joint session of Congress and give them, and the nation, a report on the health and well-being of the nation he governs.

It is set for March 1.

These events have become sort of a handicapping exercise. Pundits will be offering views on how many members of Congress stand and applaud at the appropriate times.

Although I intend to watch the president deliver his speech, I am approaching that date with a bit of apprehension. We live in highly contentious times. Republicans seem to detest the Democratic president. Many members of the GOP congressional caucus, for instance, haven’t even accepted the fact that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Many of the nut jobs within the Republican caucus have made speeches endorsing Donald J. Trump’s Big Lie about the vote fraud that did not exist.

How will those idiots react to anything Biden says? How many of them will even attend the SOTU? Might we hear a “You lie!” insult coming from the GOP side the way we did when President Obama delivered an SOTU years ago?

I will approach this upcoming event with bit of trepidation. I hope Congress — men and women on both sides of the great divide — will treat President Biden with all due respect. Frankly, given the madness that seems to permeate the thick skulls of many within the GOP caucus, I do have some doubt over the kind of reception the president is going to receive.

Please, GOP members, prove my concerns to be without merit.


Not evolving? Sure thing, lady

Check out this Twitter message from one of the QAnon queens of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican and conspiracy theorist who needs to be committed to the nut house.

I am going to argue that the U.S. Constitution has “evolved” no fewer than 27 times since the Founders created the framework that governs the United States of America. That’s the number of amendments we have tacked onto the Constitution since 1789.

Had it not evolved, Rep. Boebert wouldn’t be allowed to vote for the nut jobs she endorses for public office. That’s just one example of how the Constitution has changed over the years.

You see, this is where the so-called “strict constructionist” philosophy of constitutional interpretation breaks down, at least in my eyes. Simpletons such as Lauren Boebert seem to believe the Founders created a perfect governing document. They didn’t, even though in real time they might have presumed that the Constitution would stand the test of time as it was written. I wasn’t there to know for certain; for that matter, neither was Lauren Boebert.

I hasten to note that the preamble to the document does stipulate that the men who wrote it said the nation should strive to create a “more perfect Union,” which — once again — suggests to me that the Constitution begged for an evolution.


Impeach the justice!

Here’s a thought for you to ponder. It doesn’t come from me exclusively, but I read about it and have embraced it as a potential game-changer for the American judicial system.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could be impeached by Congress because of his wife’s right-wing activism and the justice’s refusal to recuse himself from cases in which she is involved directly.

Ginni Thomas is a right-wing zealot. She has written scathing essays excoriating the 1/6 House committee examining the insurrection that sought to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

She and her hubby talk openly with each other about their jobs and their duties. So, how in the world does Justice Thomas vote on matters involving Ginni Thomas’s political activism?

Case in point: The court voted recently 8-1 to require Donald Trump to turn over documents to the House select committee looking into Trump’s role in inciting the riot. The lone dissent? It came from Clarence Thomas.

Good grief, man. Justice Thomas has no business sitting in on arguments involving anything regarding this issue. His wife has disqualified him in the eyes of many millions of Americans, including mine.


Michael Tomasky, editor of The New Republic, makes the case that Clarence Thomas is ripe for an impeachment action. What’s more, there needs to be ethical rules set up to govern the Supreme Court, the only court in America that doesn’t have any such regulatory authority watching over its conduct.

I happen to agree with him, that Clarence Thomas has disgraced himself and the nation’s highest court.