This is a problem we need to address

October 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites, senate | Leave a comment
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Is Republican Senate leadership using taxpayer money to deceive Americans?

April 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Posted in politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) took to the Senate floor this afternoon and denounced Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) use of deceptions developed by Frank Luntz regarding the financial reform bill currently under consideration.

Luntz doesn’t give advice for free. Who paid for it? Was it the RNC or taxpayers? If so, how much taxpayer money have Republicans spent to deceive the American public?

Inquiring minds want to know.

War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

March 27, 2010 at 3:23 am | Posted in environment, Foreign Affairs, Historical, Obama!, politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to sign a new nuclear arms treaty on April 8 in Prague, Czech Republic. Great news, right?

Well, it should be, except that it requires ratification by 67 out of 100 United States senators. It can take some time.

(NYT) According to the White House, the agreement would require both Russia and the United States to reduce their long-range warheads to 1,500. This is 74% lower that the START number in 1991 and 30% lower than the limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.

START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) I was signed by President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin on July 31, 1991.  The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on October 1, 1992.  START II took a bit longer.  Signed by Bush and Yeltsin on January 3, 1993, it was not ratified until January 26, 1996. In other words, let’s not get our panties in a twist if the new treaty is not ratified this year.

That being said, there are very good reasons why the United States should embrace this treaty and renew its commitment to reducing its nuclear weapons arsenal. Here is a short film to demonstrate how absurdly overstocked we are with weapons that benefit no one.

It’s not quite over yet

March 22, 2010 at 11:23 am | Posted in health, politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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The mammoth spectacular production, Sporting life written by Cecil Raleigh & Seymour Hicks. Cincinnati ; New York : U.S. Printing Co., c1900. (Library of Congress)

It’s like Christmas, New Year’s and Easter all rolled into one.  The Health Care Reform bill passed the House last night by a vote of 219 to 212.  Though not a single Republican voted for the bill, they will make a big deal of decrying the partisan nature of the final vote, it contained 161 Republican amendments.

Today is one day I wish I had a television so I could see unedited by the intertoobs how the news programs are reporting this morning and who they’re interviewing.

According to what I was told by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s office. the Senate is expected to vote on the reconciliation bill later this week.  But it’s not going to be easy.  Republicans plan to do everything they can to prevent Americans from having the protection of law from the depredations of the for-profit health care industry.

If there was ever a time to call your senators, it’s now.  Call and let them know you want them to do the right thing — get the reconciliation bill to the floor for a final vote and then vote aye.

John Ensign’s Resignation Countdown

March 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Posted in Reality Bites, senate | Leave a comment
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Print shows a half-length portrait of a cuckold counting his wealth in the form of jewelry that his unfaithful wife receives as gifts from her suitors; through a window in the upper right corner can be seen the wife receiving the attention of a gentleman caller. c1680 (Library of Congress)

Despite screwing the wife of his former co-chief of staff and close friend, Doug Hampton, having his parents pay hush money to the cuckold, the mistress and the children of the cuckold and mistress, and it then becoming public knowledge that he procured employment as a lobbyist for said cuckold, and lied about it, Republican Senator John Ensign has not yet had the decency to resign.

Now that the DOJ investigation into Ensign’s corruption is in full swing, the countdown begins. My money is on a date in the short term. Ensign, whose current term ends in 2012, apparently stopped fundraising in the closing months of 2009.

It’s hard to imagine having so little shame, but he’s a Republican so it’s okay.

Big Balls

March 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Economy, Labor, senate | Leave a comment
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Boy working at double circular saws. N.Y. Dimension Supply Co.,. Location: Evansville, Indiana. 1908 October. (Library of Congress)

I’m reading here this morning about the defeat of the Murray Amendment which would have extended the TANF Emergency Fund through fiscal year 2011 and provided funding for 500,000 (half a million) temporary summer jobs for young people.

All 41 Republican senators voted against this amendment, but four Democrats joined them make its defeat bipartisan.

(Bureau of Labor & Statistics) In July 2009, 4.4 million youth were unemployed, up by nearly 1.0 million from July 2008. The youth unemployment rate was 18.5 percent in July 2009, the highest July rate on record for the series, which began in 1948.

Who are these brave Democrats and why did they vote against this bill despite it being almost fully paid for over a 10-year period?

Prison cell block, man playing organ, prisoners sitting on bench behind gate. c.1890. Tappan Adney, artist. (Library of Congress)

Jim Webb (D-VA): You might remember him. He was the darling of the left back in 2006 but the election of Scott Brown to the open Massachusetts senate seat proved to him that despite voters having given Democrats majorities in the House and Senate in November 2008, the bread is indeed buttered on the Republican side.

Mark Warner (D-VA): Despite his recognition in 2001 that “Virginia’s juvenile justice system needs a stronger commitment to re-entry programs and career training, so that when juveniles ultimately leave the system, they will be equipped to enter the workforce as productive members of society,” he apparently believes that young people need to go through the trial by fire of prison experience before their first job.

Ben Nelson (D-NE): Perhaps this no vote was a “thank you” to the GOP for services rendered?

Earl Cazier, manager of St. Anthony stud service, receives call for bull. Fremont County, Idaho. c.1940 (Library of Congress)

Claire McCaskill (D-MO): Maybe she just hates young people.

Whatever the reason for these four Democrats to vote against assistance to poor families and to fund jobs for young people, I am sure that shareholders in the private prison industry are grateful for their support.

I am confident that these four Democrats and their friends on the Republican side will be joining hands to pass the larger bill to which Senator Murray’s amendment would have been attached. After all, the trickle down theory has been well proven.

Why do Republicans hate America?

March 10, 2010 at 2:57 am | Posted in civil rights, law, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, senate | 1 Comment
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"Dynamite defendants leave Federal Bldg. Indianapolis" 1912 October 9

For over 25 years I have been employed preparing transcripts in criminal cases in Massachusetts. A large percentage of the work I do is for the Committee for Public Counselpublic defenders for indigent defendants. In my opinion, these men and women are unsung heroes who work long hours for very little pay in order to represent people who most of us would not care to meet at a backyard barbecue. The United States Constitution guarantees every defendant the right to an attorney. Unfortunately, not all of us have the wherewithal to afford to hire one.

Los Angeles was the first community to provide public defenders for indigent defendants, in 1913. In 1971, pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C.§ 3006A, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit approved the creation of The Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Texas.

In 1974 Congress created the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) whose mission is “to promote equal access to justice in our Nation and to provide high quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons.”

In keeping with the desire of members of the Republican party to destroy all meaningful protections of the Constitution, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell recommended nomination for a position on the board of directors of LSC a person who has worked diligently to cut off public funding of attorneys for poor people. Her name is Sharon Browne.

But Ms. Browne is not awaiting confirmation simply by the good graces of Senator McConnell. She also has President Obama to thank. He was absolutely free to decline to include her name. It’s hard to imagine that no one inside the White House was aware of Sharon Browne’s agenda. And it’s disheartening to once again see this Democratic administration miss another opportunity to show that it had any more respect for the rule of law than Republican administrations.

Republican senators have demonstrated over and over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum, the ease with which confirmation of qualified nominees can be held up for no reason at all.

Has a single Democrat stepped up to put a hold on Ms. Browne’s nomination? No.

In fact, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), as chair of the senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, has penciled her in on today’s schedule for a vote of approval prior to a allow her nomination to proceed to a full vote by the senate.

Do not allow sit idly by while the Republicans insert another corrosive element into the federal government. Their only intent is to so weaken the effectiveness of our government and our ability to enjoy the protections guaranteed each one of us under the Constitution. Call your Democratic senators. Ask that they grow a set and place a hold on this disgraceful nominee, or that at the very least they vote no on confirmation.

Like pulling teeth

March 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Economy, health, House of Representatives, politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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George Washington's teeth, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915. (Library of Congress)

It’s been a long year but the final votes to pass this godforsaken health care reform bill are coming together. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to wrangle 216 votes out of 431, and there are now 50 senators “open to using reconciliation to finish health reform.”

Back a couple weeks ago I was encouraging my readers to call their senators and request they support passing a public option via reconciliation. There are apparently now 37 senators willing to do that. Unfortunately, I think it’s pretty clear that is not going to happen this go, but the current bill is still a vast improvement over the status quo.

Even if you have already, call your senators and representative to ask for their “yes” vote on health care reform.

Overview of the President’s Health Care Reform Proposal

February 22, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health, House of Representatives, politics straight up, senate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Public Health Service nurse treating patient. Between 1918 and 1925. (Library of Congress)

In advance of Thursday’s bipartisan health care reform summit, the White House has posted specific proposals.

The 11-page “blueprint” is here (PDF).

The HCR bill passed by the House in November 2009, as well as CBO and budget information, can be read here. The HCR bill passed by the Senate in December 2009, as well as related information, is available here.

A Republican plan posted at an unknown date, but perhaps October 2009, is here. Whether they’re sticking to what is in this proposed “substitution” is anybody’s guess. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has no information.

Read up, then call your Congresscritters and let them know what you think.

UPDATE: The White House has information about Republican ideas included in the President’s proposal and the legislation passed by Congress here.

Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room provides a brief side-by-side comparison between the president’s current proposals and the House and Senate bills here.

Did you call your senator? Call him or her again.

February 20, 2010 at 2:54 am | Posted in health, senate | 1 Comment
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February 20-25:  Call Your Senator Week!

Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1940. (Library of Congress)

As you may have heard, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has written a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asking that Reid “bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.” He’s circulating it to other senators for their signatures. [TPM reports as of 3/1/10 30 senators have signed the letter or issued statements indicating their support for passing a public option through reconciliation.  I only have 28 on my running list — who did I miss?]

I was heartened to read Friday morning that Senator Jean Shaneen (D-NH) was the 18th to sign it, so I spent some time phoning to encourage Democratic senators to sign the letter.

Imagine my delight to learn Friday evening that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) announced he has signed the letter as well.

If your senators haven’t signed the letter, give them a call. Short and sweet: “Please sign Senator Michael Bennet’s letter urging leadership to pass a public option via reconciliation. Thanks.”

It really only takes a minute. Even if you have already called your state’s senators about health care reform, call them again. And phone those listed below and let them know you appreciate their support of the public option.

UPDATE: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) makes twenty. According to TPM, the Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) letter also has 119 signatures from House members.

TPM asked Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) if he and other public option supporters would recruit more signatories to the letter, Whitehouse was non-committal. “It’s a matter of continuing interest,” he said. “Whether adding signatories to the letter is the means by which that interest gets expressed, I’m kind of open on that.”

Have you phoned your senators yet?

FURTHER UPDATE: The White House will back passage of health care reform via reconciliation if the GOP attempts a filibuster.

ADDITIONAL FURTHER UPDATE: Three more signatures have been added, bringing the total to 23: Senators Daniel Inouye (HI), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Tim Johnson (SD).

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is the 24th signatory.

Democratic senators who are signatories:

Historically inaccurate representation of our forebears working communally.

"BIRTH OF THE AMERICAN FLAG" -- between 1905 and 1945 (Library of Congress)

    1. Michael Bennet (CO)
    2. Jeff Bingaman (NM)
    3. Barbara Boxer (CA)
    4. Sherrod Brown (OH)
    5. Roland Burris (IL)
    6. Ben Cardin (MD)
    7. Dick Durbin (IL)
    8. Dianne Feinstein (CA)
    9. Al Franken (MN)
    10. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
    11. Daniel Inouye (HI)
    12. Tim Johnson (SD)
    13. John Kerry (MA)
    14. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
    15. Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
    16. Patrick Leahy (VT)
    17. Carl Levin (MI)
    18. Robert Menendez NJ)
    19. Jeff Merkley (OR)
    20. Barbara Mikulski (MD)
    21. Patty Murray (WA),
    22. Jack Reed (RI)
    23. Bernie Sanders (VT)
    24. Chuck Schumer (NY)
    25. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
    26. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
    27. Tom Udall (NM)
    28. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
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