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Archive for the ‘Senate’ Category

Freedom’s just another word for nothing

Posted by Charles II on November 20, 2014

Matthew Taylor, The Guardian:

Human rights experts and technology groups have launched a new tool allowing members of the public to scan their computers and phones for surveillance spyware used by governments.

Amnesty says Detekt is the first tool freely available that will allow activists and journalists to find out if their electronic devices are being monitored without their knowledge.

Detekt was developed by German security researcher Claudio Guarnieri after discussions with human rights activists. It will be launched on Thursday in partnership with Amnesty International, British charity Privacy International, German civil rights group Digitale Gesellschaft and US digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Meanwhile, our freedom-loving Senate Republicans are blocking any limits on spying on Americans (although, paradoxically, this may possibly be good news). We can’t even get those radical leftist Senate Democrats to release the torture report even though 30 U.S. military generals have urged that it be released. Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, from August:

Three of the Middle East’s most brutal and hated dictators participated fulsomely in pre- and post-9/11 renditions: Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Though the CIA cultivated robust relationships with their security services, cemented around counter-terrorism, the US would later abandon Mubarak, aid in Gaddafi’s overthrow and killing, and come within a hair’s breadth last year of attacking Assad.

Through those alliances, the US secretly permitted the architecture of rendition to encompass their partners’ enemies. Documents recovered by Human Rights Watch in the aftermath of Gaddafi’s overthrow showed the US capturing and interrogating Gaddafi’s opponents in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose ties to al-Qaida were nuanced and transactional, and then rendering them to Gaddafi.

“Interrogation” entailed, among other things, being sealed inside a small “confinement box,” repeated beatings and waterboarding – all within CIA custody, and all before transference to Gaddafi’s prisons for even more brutal treatment.

Posted in Democrats, Republicans as cancer, Senate | 2 Comments »

Thank your Democratic Senator

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013





Posted in Senate | 3 Comments »

Climate denier Inhofe draws a Democratic challenger

Posted by Charles II on July 23, 2013

Not that there’s much hope in crimson red Oklahoma, but:

Tulsa insurance executive Matt Silverstein has filed notice with the Federal Election Commission of his intention to challenge Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe for the U.S. Senate next year as a Democrat.

Among those backing Silverstein is former state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, who sent out a fundraising letter on his behalf last week.

A political novice, Silverstein will be taking on one of the most durable political figures in the state’s history.

James Inhofe is one of the most destructive members of the Senate.

Posted in climate change, Senate | 1 Comment »

The latest corruption extravaganza

Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2012

Public Citizen has correctly labeled Susan Collins’ bill S. 1100 an invitation to contractor corruption. The bill says right up front that its purpose is:

To amend title 41, United States Code, to prohibit inserting politics into the Federal acquisition process by prohibiting the submission of political contribution information as a condition of receiving a Federal contract.

Now, we know about the sewer of secret campaign finance that Citizens United opened up. But because federal contractors have to disclose how they are influencing the political process, that ruling doesn’t cover them.

They’re already free to give campaign finance bribes to people who will be voting whether or not to give them money. What they want is freedom from disclosure of that corrupt nexus.

You can take action here.

Posted in Republicans acting badly, Senate, The Plunderbund | Comments Off on The latest corruption extravaganza

The Democrats’ sellout on filibuster reform

Posted by Charles II on January 26, 2011

To get a sense of how cynical a betrayal this is, I suggest reading Gold and Gupta. Issues related to rules changes have been a problem for almost a hundred years. In 1979, Robert Byrd laid out the reasoning for how filibuster reform could be accomplished. The principle is well known: one Congress may not bind another. Otherwise, the nation could face a danger and be unable to defend itself from it because of obsolete legislation. The original Senate operated by rules that allowed debate to be ended by majority vote on any issue; in 1806, unlimited debate was introduced essentially by accident. And the Senate has itself used the Constitutional option, first–when isolationists attempted to block American ships from defending themselves from U-Boats– to set rules on cloture, then to reduce the number of votes needed for cloture:

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution empowers the Senate to “determine the Rule of its Proceedings.” In 1917 and on many occasions since 1917, the Senate has debated whether this constitutional rulemaking power allows a simple majority to alter the Senate’s Standing Rules at will. At least four times, changes to the Senate Standing Rules were influenced by attempts to use the constitutional option. And throughout Senate history, a simple majority has changed Senate procedures governing debate by setting precedents or adopting Standing Orders that altered the operation of the Standing Rules without amending their actual text. Over two centuries, the Senate’s constitutional rulemaking power has been exercised in a variety of ways to change Senate procedures. As Senate parliamentary process further evolves, this power plainly will be exercised again. At issue is when, how, and to what effect.

So, what was accomplished today? No filibuster reform. We might see the following reforms:

limit the number of executive branch nominations subject to Senate confirmation; make it more difficult for senators to anonymously block legislation or nominees; and end a stall tactic that lets senators force clerks to read aloud the complete text of a bill if the measure has been made public.

That is, if the Republicans are so nice as to let the Senate do these things.

I have rarely been as disgusted with the Democratic Party as I have been today. If there is a renewed financial crisis– or a natural disaster, or any other reason to pass legislation in a hurry– the Democrats have left the Senate Republicans, who represent a clear minority of Americans– in control of their body. This is not an exaggeration: they will let Americans suffer or die rather than confront how corrupt the Senate has become. We know, because tens of thousands of Americans have been dying every year for lack of medical insurance while these sons of b—–s sat on their hands and said there was nothing they could do.


Posted in Democrats, Senate | 4 Comments »

Clean up the Senate

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2010

Michael Tomasky:

The second route [to reform of the Senate; as opposed to getting 67 votes] is championed by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, who calls it “the Constitutional option.” Normally every odd-year January when Congress reconvenes, the House of Representatives declares itself a new body and must vote to readopt its rules; the Senate, however, declares itself a “continuing body,” simply rolling its rules over to the current term (not without justification, since two thirds of senators in any new Congress are not new). Udall wants the Senate to declare itself a new body next January. As such a body, it could change its rules by simple majority vote. Senate scholars appear to believe this is within the rules.

This is all the Senate needs to do to become functional again. Yes, it means that when Republicans gain control, they will be able to tamper with the rules. But as a nation we need to get through the next two years, and it’s not entirely clear we will if the abuse of the filibuster is allowed to continue.

The alternative may well be that the People put an end to this nonsense by declaring the Second Republic. This is, like the People, messy. But this country is heading toward insolvency. In that day, a lot of things that look ridiculous now will suddenly seem very practical. Let’s hope that the Democrats understand just how close to the brink to which they have let the Republicans push this nation.

Posted in abuse of power, Democrats, Republicans acting badly, Senate | Comments Off on Clean up the Senate

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee Tells Their Healthcare Story

Posted by Charles II on March 17, 2010

Added 3/18: The CBO has scored the reconciliation bill.

Deficit hawks will love it: there are promises of saving about $14B/year for ten years, then $130B for the next ten years. Of course, these are all fantasy numbers that may be achieved or not. They give the Democrats a talking point.

The main point is that these are not the numbers we have to see. We need to see larger numbers for savings, not just on the federal side but on the business/individual side. Like, $140B this year, $280B the following year, $420B the next, and so on for six years, reducing our spending to the levels of the rest of the world. Over 10 years, that would average to something like $490B/year, with very approximately one-third of the savings being on the federal side. Call it $160B/year.

See how puny the $14B/year savings is?
The Senate has put out its story on why we should support the healthcare bill. I’m not endorsing it– I think that reasonable people can be on both sides of the issue– but it’s got features that I know will help people.

So, don’t let the unreasonable people say that it’s purely a gift to the insurance industry. It’s not. It is too timid, and brought to the table very grudgingly, but it’s not nothing at all.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a link for it, so I am excerpting from a PDF. However, similar documents are here and here:

Immediate Benefits
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes health insurance market reforms that will bring immediate benefits to millions of Americans, including those who currently have coverage. The following benefits will be available in the first year after enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Access to Affordable Coverage for the Uninsured with Pre-existing Conditions

[Continues below the fold]

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Democrats, health care, Senate | 1 Comment »

Senator Klobuchar Makes A Good Point

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 16, 2009

You’ll never hear about on any of the evening TV news channels, but the two Minnesotans on the Senate Judiciary Committee had no trouble at all outshining their Republican counterparts.

Case in point: Senator Amy Klobuchar mentions the fact that back when Judge Sotomayor had appeared before the Senate to be confirmed in two prior Federal appointments, nobody once took her to task for her “wise Latina” comments.

Posted in Minnesota, Senate, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Coleman Concedes (aka John Cornyn pulls the plug)

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 30, 2009

Guess watching $145,000 a week circling the drain — money that could have been saved up and used to protect vulnerable Republican Senatorial candidates in 2010 — finally started to bother John Cornyn and the NRSC.

Here’s some music for Senator Al Franken:


Posted in Al Franken, Minnesota, Norm Coleman, Senate | 1 Comment »

So How Screwed Is Norm Coleman?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 2, 2009


He was screwed from the beginning, says Rick Hasen:

4. The reason Coleman is having a harder time is that he’s got a tougher road to success:

a. The state Supreme Court is going to deter to the factual findings of the trial court, and those factual findings favor Franken.

b. The state Supreme Court’s existing precedent in terms of treating absentee ballots strictly as a matter of fraud-prevention favors Franken. A change in that standard now, as I’ve argued, would create a due process argument for Franken by constituting a change in the rules of the election after the fact.

c. Even if the court accepted some of Coleman’s arguments in the abstract—such as that there were some votes illegally counted by some jurisdictions (or alternatively, some ballots accepted under a looser “substantial compliance” standard)– that doesn’t mean Coleman would win his case. He’d have to show that there were enough problems to make a difference in the outcome of the election (a point the Justices expressed a great deal of skepticism about, in their discussion of the failure of the offer of proof).

d. On the merits, the Justices mentioned ways of distinguishing other cases in which there were due process problems, such as when voters relied upon rules of the game that were changed later. There was an interesting discussion of whether Bush v. Gore eliminated the requirement that a challenger prove intentional discrimination to make out an equal protection argument. It was the only line of argument that I saw potentially helping Coleman, but it did not appear to be enough to overcome the Justice’s skepticism.

Hasen later cites a whole bunch of other folks who think that Franken’s going to win going away.

The irony is of course that Team Coleman wants to overturn Andersen v. Rolvaag, the Minnesota case law on recounts, by using Bush v. Gore, when Andersen v. Rolvaag is not only settled case law all the way up to the US Supreme Court, but is actually the lead precedent cited in Bush v. Gore!

Posted in Al Franken, Minnesota, Norm Coleman, Senate | 4 Comments »

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