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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

If you really want to know what the Founders said…

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2013

The National Archives has made it possible: see here.

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Phyladelphia Octr. 9. 1774

My Dear

I am wearied to Death with the Life I lead. The Business of the Congress is tedious, beyond Expression. This Assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every Man in it is a great Man—an orator, a Critick, a statesman, and therefore every Man upon every Question must shew his oratory, his Criticism and his Political Abilities.

The Consequence of this is, that Business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable Length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that We should come to a Resolution that Three and two make five We should be entertained with Logick and Rhetorick, Law, History, Politicks and Mathematicks, concerning the Subject for two whole Days, and then We should pass the Resolution unanimously in the Affirmative.

Posted in Congress, history | 2 Comments »

Boehner loses one

Posted by Charles II on June 20, 2013

Savage cuts to NSAP (Food Stamps) and international food aid in HR 1947 were voted down 234-195. You can see the vote here.

But they’ll be b-a-a-a-a-c-k.

If this happens enough times, maybe Republican leadership will figure out that being a–holes is not a good political strategy.

Democrats who chose to join forces with evil:

Barber, Barrow, Bera, Braley, Brownley, Bustos, Costa, Cuellar, Enyart, Farr, Garamendi, Garcia, Loebsack, McIntyre, McNerney, Murphy (FL), Owens, Peters, Peterson, Rahall, Schrader, Sinema, Vela, Walz.

I guess agribusiness is more important to them than the flood tide of hungry people.

Posted in Congress, poverty, Republicans acting badly, You're On Your Own-ership Society | 6 Comments »

End the filibuster

Posted by Charles II on January 4, 2013

Credo has a petition to end the filibuster here.

So, call, e-mail, or whatever, but D-O  S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G to end this farce.

Posted in Congress, filibuster | Comments Off

Thanks for connecting the last remaining dot

Posted by Charles II on March 22, 2012

Lucia Graves, HuffPo

After months of investigations into Solyndra and other Department of Energy loans failed to produce a smoking gun, one Republican lawmaker let slip why House Republicans have kept up the charge.

In an interview following yet another hearing in which Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified about the Department’s loan guarantee program, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appeared to admit that Republicans’ ongoing probes of the program — from which the bankrupt California-based solar company Solyndra and others benefited — are largely a play to win votes in November.

“Our staff will continue to dig into it and see,” Jordan told Environment & Energy Daily. “But what I hope happens is we stop doing these kind of things … this whole cronyism approach to the marketplace.

“Ultimately, we’ll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November.”

“I think leadership doesn’t want to be seen as using the gavels here for political purposes,” [Cong. Steve] King [R-Tea Party, who is running the Fast and Furious spanking of the Department of Injustice] told The Hill in an interview. “I think there’s a bit of an aversion to that. Me? I have no reservations about that. This is politics.”

I’m certainly not shocked that they are engaged in politics in Washington. I am disappointed that so many Americans can’t figure this out.

Posted in Congress, Congressional hearings, Republicans acting badly, Tea Party | 3 Comments »

Upside Down World: The Colony Strikes Back/Update

Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2012

Thanks to Rights Action -> Quotha -> Honduras Culture and Politics for noting that Jan Schakowsky had gained over co-signers of a letter stating (in part) that:

We are concerned with the grave human rights abuses in the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras and ask the State Department to take effective steps to address it. The abuses taking place in this area of the country reflect a larger pattern of human rights violations in which human rights defenders, community leaders, and opposition activists are the subject of death threats, attacks, and extrajudicial executions.

Private security guards on farmlands in dispute are cited by witnesses as perpetrators of many of these crimes…

We know you share our firm belief that given support for the Honduran government, including assistance for the police, military, and judicial system, we have an obligation to ensure that human rights are respected.

We ask you to suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious human rights attributed to the security forces.

…the U.S. supported Truth Commission, which examined 20 emblematic human rights cases resulting in death that took place in the period between the June 2009 coup until the Lobo government took office, determined that more than three-quarters can be attributed to excessive use of force by army or police, or selective killings by government agents. The overwhelming majority of such abuses remain in impunity.

As RNS says, “How do you know when you are making a difference?

How about when the entire Honduran government mobilizes to refute you.”

Click for more
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in abuse of power, Congress, corruption, Honduras, The Plunderbund | 2 Comments »

Dear General Mills…./updated again

Posted by Charles II on February 1, 2012

Dear General Mills:

As an investor in General Mills, I am disappointed that it has been silent regarding the decision of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to suspend its association with Planned Parenthood. Yoplait, a General Mills brand, is a major sustainer of the Komen Foundation. As a consumer, I was always willing to cut Yoplait a little slack even though I think it’s overpriced and not the best brand on the shelf because it had associated itself with doing good. As an investor, I believe that companies that consciously devote themselves to doing good end up with better governance and more profitable outcomes. So the fact that Yoplait has stood silent while the Komen Foundation has descended into playing politics is disappointing. The reality is that Komen is not nearly as effective as Planned Parenthood in preventing and treating breast cancer.

As an investor, I think that Yoplait should re-direct any donations to breast cancer detection and treatment by Planned Parenthood. At the very least, it should disassociate itself from Komen.

People should mark well: McCarthyism is not just politicians using their office to attack and silence opponents. Most tragically, it is the willingness of ordinary citizens and organizations to go along with it.

Planned Parenthood gets $100 extra dollars from me as a FTSGKF.
_______
Update. Not all oil men are evil:

Amy and Lee Fikes said: “Our family is saddened that the far right has relentlessly and successfully pressured the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to cut funding for breast screening, referral, and education support to low-income women who, until now, have been able to depend on the partnership between Komen and Planned Parenthood for their health. In response to this disappointing news, our family foundation has granted $250,000 to establish a Breast Health Fund at Planned Parenthood, so that their health centers across the country can continue to put the real needs of women ahead of right wing ideology. We encourage others to join us in replacing the funds lost, so that no woman’s health is imperiled by Komen’s unfortunate decision.” (See below for full statement.)

Lee Fikes is the head of Bonanza Oil.
_________________
And Michael Bloomberg has offered a matching grant of $250,000

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has entered the controversy over America’s largest breast cancer advocacy group’s cut in funding to Planned Parenthood by vowing to make up $250,000 of the missing funds out of his own pocket.

In a statement, Bloomberg said: “Politics have no place in health care. Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.”

Posted in abortion, Congress, women's issues | 8 Comments »

Don’t Let This Happen

Posted by MEC on January 20, 2012

funny pictures - I made you a cookie LOL
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

The blackout is over but the risk from SOPA and PIPA is still great. Protect creativity, freedom of expression, and lolcats. Tell your members of Congress to oppose SOPA/PIPA.

Posted in Congress | 1 Comment »

An open letter to a congressional candidate

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2011

Dear Mr. _______

I am writing in response to your solicitation for campaign funds. I receive dozens of such solicitations every year, and am more than generous. Because I believe that having contested elections in all districts is vital to democracy, I devote approximately 4% of my income per year to political donations. I support even very unlikely candidacies when those candidates are serious and capable.

So, why should I support you?

Your campaign so far is largely based on airy, feel-good generalities. It shows little grasp of complex issues. Where it is specific, it often gets lost in details. Even to get an understanding of where you stand on issues takes way too much effort, requiring one to scroll through many Facebook pages. So, while I’m delighted that you promise to defend Social Security and Medicare—would that more Democrats would make the promise—the job you’re applying for is a lot more than “being progressive” or “standing for real Democratic values.” When he was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman ran on similar slogans.

I don’t expect you to agree with me on all my pet issues. If a candidate came out with an idea for controlling health care costs through faith healing—and had credible data to back it up—I’d drop my attachment to the public option. If a candidate were serious about paying for all of America’s wars, it would make me less critical of his belligerent propensities. I’m persuadable, but I’m not a fool. I know that once a candidate gets to Washington, he’ll face 434 people with other opinions. He’ll have to deal. I need to know who and what he’ll sacrifice. I need to know what he won’t sacrifice. And I need to know how far he’ll go to defend those beliefs.

Let’s get down to basics. So far, you’re not just a lousy candidate. You’re a lousy campaigner. I sent you early money so you could reach out beyond the small circle of progressive donors. Instead, you’ve spent 20% of that money just on direct mail to me! We don’t have millions of dollars to waste on electronic campaigns. For that matter, we hate sending money to you just so that you can give it to FOX and CNN. You need to be using that money a lot more wisely than you are. Think like an entrepreneur. You might get a chance to talk to an investor on an elevator going from the first to the third floor. You have 25 words or less in which to tell him about your business and give him a card. What words do you choose?

Here are some specific ideas.

First, you have to know who you are. I love the warm and fuzzy family pictures, but they don’t open my wallet. I have to know exactly what in your life gives you insight into the problems of the district. For example, “I was a school teacher. A family came to me because they were running out of food at the end of the month. I worked with a local food pantry and a church near their home to help them. I will support Food Stamps and school lunches no matter what.” Sincerity is really, really important. An honest-seeming idiot beats a clever hypocrite any day.

In that regard, let me add that most voters believe that Washington is corrupt, that votes are outright bought. This perception will only change when there is no connection whatsoever between legislation and campaign funding. Just sayin’: you want to be thought of as honest, tell people what you’ll do to end the corruption.

Second, I’d like to believe that once you go to Washington, you will listen to me rather than the big donors. You could start that process by calling people, not asking for funds, but for ideas and concerns. Don’t just call progressives or the people who show up at your $100-a-plate fundraisers. Call conservative Democrats, corporate Republicans, Tea Party people, John Birchers, anti-abortion zealots. You want to represent the district. They live in the district. Talk to them. If nothing else, you’ll learn not to panic when faced by ignorant, rude, selfish, hateful people, so maybe you won’t sell out your base when the phone starts ringing off the hook over President Obama’s birth certificate. And just by politely listening to the opposition, you’ll make it harder for the troglodyte you will inevitably face to demonize you.

Third, you don’t need clever slogans. You need thematic unity. Clever slogans come from understanding issues in depth, and seeing how they intertwine. My personal clever slogan is “America needs a raise.” This plays off of a series of issues: stagnant family incomes, the Depression (with the accompanying depression) that permeates our country, and the Christian theme that serving justice requires sacrifice. But you don’t have to like my slogan. If you understand the issues you care about, and think deeply about why they’re important, slogans will occur to you. They form the 25 words of your elevator speech.

Finally, let’s talk about reaching voters. Here are some ideas.

Your website sucking—that can be fixed, and fast. Add pages on issues, bio, etc. to bring it up to standard. Supporters need a central place to go to know where you stand. Facebook is great, but is not organized enough to be that place.

Second, there are a lot of unemployed people. You can offer them work, even if it only pays carfare, lunch, and a chance to network. Since you’ll have lots of volunteers, consider making a video that each of them can watch (since it will inevitably leak, make sure that even short snippets won’t embarrass you). That way you minimize training time by permanent staff.

Third, there are public places where volunteers can talk to the public. Some supermarkets or malls will still let you put up a table. It’s not illegal to walk the streets with a sandwich sign. They can’t run you out of a park, and during some seasons those are packed.

Fourth, refuse to run ads or appear on hostile media—and demand that fellow Democrats do the same. Media are incredibly dependent on revenues from campaigns. And you rob them of credibility by refusing to play their game. Our goal is not just to win a congressional seat. We want to fundamentally change the game so that all voices are heard, not just those with money—and not just even our own. We want democracy.

Fifth, the Republicans are making a concerted effort to deny people the right to vote. You need to call them out for wanting to re-establish an aristocracy where only some people have a say. You also need practical methods to counter voter suppression. You might even have to sue the state to knock down a requirement that people buy their birth certificate just to vote, a poll tax if there ever was one. Think ahead.

Well, this is a start. It took me an hour of stream-of-consciousness to come up with these recommendations. If you and your staff can’t do better, you should quit now before you waste money that could be going to serious candidates. And if you can, well, my wallet is open.

Will be crossposted at DK.

Posted in Congress, Democrats, election theft | Comments Off

GAO Report on ACORN; Court: A bill of attainder is not a punishment

Posted by Charles II on June 16, 2011

Via Avedon, this article from Consumer Affairs (emphasis added):

A report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds little to support the charges that led to the demise of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

of 22 investigations of alleged election and voter registration fraud, most were closed without prosecution, the report found.

One of eight investigations of alleged voter registration fraud resulted in guilty pleas and seven were closed without action due to lack of evidence.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) reported five closed matters – one resolved, one dismissed and the others dropped after FEC “found no reason to believe the violations occurred.”

The group disbanded in March 2010 In December 2009, New York U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Congress had violated the Constitution by singling out ACORN and banning it from receiving federal funds but the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court, which found that federal funds amounted to only 10 percent of ACORN’s funding and therefore Congress’ action did not amount to punishment, even though it may have been unjustified.

In other words, the federal appeals court found that it’s perfectly all right to single out an organization on which to impose–without judicial review– a penalty for past behavior that actually wasn’t what the Congress said it was. That’s because a penalty is not a punishment.

Posted in Congress, judicial rulings, judiciary | Comments Off

Pennies from heaven: how the bailout worked

Posted by Charles II on December 3, 2010

Via Barry Ritholtz, you can find out how the October 2008 (Emergency Economic Stabilization Act which funded TARP) bailout money was used by the US Treasury here.

But the big news is what the Fed did, namely bail out the entire world. We only know about this thanks to the persistence of Senator Bernie Sanders in forcing a partial audit of the Fed through the Dodd-Frank legislation. Annie Lowrey, Slate:

The cache also shows that a much broader range of companies used the Fed facilities than previously imagined. For instance, the Fed, via its commercial paper facility, aided hog-builder Harley Davidson, Japanese carmaker Toyota, and construction equipment giant Caterpillar. It also helped a plethora of foreign banks, from the Swiss bank UBS to the government-owned Korean Development Bank.

Supersecret hedge funds also availed themselves of the Fed’s help. Indeed, firms like Magnetar—of the infamously skeezy Magnetar trade—borrowed billions from the government via the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. The main purpose of TALF was to help ease the market for assets backed by things like student loans and credit cards, with the goal of restoring the flow of credit to consumers. Now we know that TALF also provided low-cost loans to firms like Magnetar and Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO.

Luca Di Leo and Maya Jackson Randall of the WSJ add some detail on how we bailed out foreign institutions (if “foreign” has any meaning in globalized finance):

When Lehman Brothers failed Sept. 15, 2008, borrowers started to line up for the PDCF. That day, the single-biggest loan went to Barclays Capital, the investment bank of U.K. lender Barclays PLC that eventually bought a big piece of Lehman out of bankruptcy. Several foreign banks benefited from the program, including Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and UBS. …

Companies outside the traditional banking world also sold commercial paper. Apart from banks, the Fed also bought short-term debt from McDonalds Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., Harley-Davidson Inc., and state-owned Korea Development Bank….

Some of the largest players in the bond market, such as Allianz SE’s Pacific Investment Management Co., also used the Fed’s programs. California-based Pimco borrowed $7.1 billion from the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF. …

The ECB used this facility 271 times from December 2007, with loans picking up again this year following Europe’s debt crisis, in a reminder that the effects of the financial crisis are still being felt.

Lowrey links to Caroline Salas and Matthew Leising at Bloomberg on the key question of what the Fed got as collateral. The Fed refused to supply information on the specific securities that were supplied, which means that we do not get a meaningful audit of the Fed:

It is “specifically impossible” to know how much risk taxpayers were taking by looking at pools of collateral grouped by asset class and rating, said Sylvain Raynes, a principal at R&R Consulting in New York and co-author of “Elements of Structured Finance,” published in May by Oxford University Press.

“I need to know the individual composition because a $2 billion pool can be one asset of $2 billion, which would be very risky, or 2,000 assets of $1 million each, and that’s not risky at all,” Raynes said. “The spirit of Dodd-Frank was not respected, and they used the vagueness in the wording of the law to weasel out of fulfilling their duty to the American people.”

With the change in power in Washington, it’s unlikely that the Congress will force the rest of the disclosure necessary to understand just how much corporate socialism is involved.

Posted in bailout, Congress, financial crisis, mortgage crisis | Comments Off

 
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