Category Archives: Congress

Crazy

[UPDATE]:

The latest is here.

So, this happened:

As the House finished their vote to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, a House stenographer decided it was a good time to let everyone know her feelings about God, Congress, and the Freemasons.

“He [God] will not be mocked,” the stenographer, apparently named Molly, yelled into the microphone as she was dragged off by security. “The greatest deception here is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus.”

You can hear the rant here.

Definitely doesn’t do much to dispel the notion that we are ruled by religious nuts. Apparently the woman was taken for a mental evaluation.

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Filed under Congress, religion

Fun With Polls

This is cute:

Americans like Witches, the IRS, and even Hemorrhoids better than Congress

Raleigh, N.C. – While Congress remains divided amidst the government shutdown, Americans are united in their disapproval of the legislating body. Of registered voters polled, 85% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Only 8% approve- Democrats, Republicans and Independents are almost equally united in their distaste for Congress, with only 7%, 10% and 8% approving respectively. Very conservative voters differed slightly with a support of 15%.

[...]

Americans currently have a higher opinion of witches (46/32), jury duty (73/18) and hemorrhoids (53/31) than Congress. Republicans seem much more accepting of Congress over hemorrhoids compared to other voters — 41% favored Congress more than the diseases, as oppose to only 25% of Democrats and 27% of Independents.

Wow. Republicans like Congress more than hemorrhoids? There’s a joke in there somewhere.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Congress:

Half of registered voters have a higher opinion of Congress than of Anthony Weiner right now (50/23). In fact, public figures are some of the only people that registered voters dislike more than the legislature. Americans thought higher of Congress when asked about Vladimir Putin (49/28), Charles Manson (56/18), Honey Boo Boo (42/33) and Miley Cyrus (36/31) – with ‘twerking’ also four points below Congress at 37/33.

Poor Miley Cyrus. She gets such a bum rap.

Meanwhile, Dave Weigel debunks Fox News’ “Obama is tanking in the polls” meme. This is your right wing information bubble at work, folks. You’d think they’d have figured out that it’s not working for them.

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Essential

I don’t think “essential” means what Congress thinks it means:

A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.

According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed.

It appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) complained to a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald that the members gym was getting “rank.”

Meanwhile:

The government has told about 60 home owners in southern Nevada, for instance, that they need to leave their property for the duration of the shutdown, because their homes sit on federal land in the Lake Mead Recreational Area. Since Lake Mead is managed by the feds, anybody who happens to own a home within its boundaries is technically a “visitor” subject to the same lockout that applies to tourists, hikers, campers or sportsmen seeking access to federal land.

The rules governing Lake Mead say that the only homes allowed there must be vacation homes, with the owners having a primary residence someplace else, so they’re not considered full-time, year-round residents of the park. But some home owners apparently got into the habit of spending most of their time at Lake Mead, anyway. Joyce Spencer, 77, said she and her husband Ralph, who is 80, had to move in with nearby family after a park ranger told them they had 24 hours to evacuate the Lake Mead home they’ve owned since the 1970s. “I had to buy Ralph undershirts and jeans because I forgot his pants,” Joyce Spencer told TV station KTNV. “I had to be sure and get his walker and his scooter.”

I suggest these people climb aboard the nearest Greyhound headed to Washington D.C. and take up residence in the House gym.

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News From Bullshit Mountain

I didn’t have time to compile my regular Good News Friday post, but I did find this clip from The Daily Show which someone put on YouTube. Enjoy it while you can, I’m sure Comedy Central will yank it at some point. As I’ve mentioned before, WordPress doesn’t let me embded Comedy Central’s videos:

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Filed under Congress, The Daily Show

Republicans! What Do They Want?

Even they don’t know:

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) told the Washington Examiner. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me! Lollipops? Ponies? How about a Home Depot gift card, do you want that? No?

If only Barry Obummer would throw them a face-saving lifeline to help them out of the corner they’ve backed themselves into. Betcha that’s something they’d all love to have.

Adding ….

Democrats compromised by ditching single payer, we compromised with the Hyde Amendment, we compromised by ditching the public option and going with the exchanges instead, and Republicans still shut down the government because they want something else, they just aren’t sure what.

There will not be a political solution to a psychological problem, folks.

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Filed under Congress, politics, Republican Party

PR Stunts

So let me get this straight: Teanuts like Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann push for the government shut-down which results in shuttered national parks and monuments. Then they orchestrate a PR stunt at the World War II Memorial with a bunch of veterans where they get to look like big damn heroes? And the media gobbles it up like candy?

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Bachmann said. “It was big buses and a narrow strip of sidewalk, and there were all these veterans standing here behind police tape and they’re prevented from going in to see the memorial.”

Really? What the hell did you think would happen when you shut down the government, lady?

Gohmert Tweeted photos of himself with the veterans. This was grandstanding of the highest order, an obvious PR ploy and attempt to deflect any responsibility for the mess they themselves created:

Gohmert and other Republican members of Congress also went to the memorial and criticized the government for preventing visitors from coming to the memorial.

“We’ve got park service employees out here,” Gohmert said before the gates were opened. “Why wouldn’t you have them here to allow the veterans in, instead of stand and keep them from coming in?”

Umm, because it’s closed? Because you closed it? Do you break into convenience stores when they’re closed, too?

Again: the national media ate this BS up like candy. No one, not WTVF (my local CBS affiliate) or CNN or even the Associated Press bothered to point out that the very “heroes” breaking down the barricades were the people who voted for the shutdown in the first place.

And that’s it in a nutshell, folks. That’s all this whole government shutdown thing is: one big giant PR stunt. One chance to capture donations and B-Roll and optics for the 2014 election. I mean I’m sure it’s all a big coinky-dinky that news cameras were on site as Gohmert and Bachmann busted through those barricades, right?

Wake up and smell the bullshit.

I’m not surprised that the media plays along with this nonsense. They’re the ones reaping the financial rewards when campaign season rolls around and the TV ads start running. This is collusion of the highest order.

Shame on all of you.

More from Wonkette ….

[UPDATE]:

And more from Gawker. Apparently the vets were flown in on a chartered jet and Reince Priebus has vowed to keep the WWII memorial open.

If you don’t think this whole thing wasn’t manufactured for its PR value, I have a bridge to sell you. Wonder how many fundraising emails this little stunt has spawned?

And yes, maybe Bachmann, Gohmert and Steve Palazzo should have worked harder to keep from closing the thing in the first place.

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Filed under Congress, Media, media manipulation

Where There’s Shit There’s Always Flies

A government shutdown looms and the stock market is tanking, which makes this the perfect opportunity to fundraise, naturally:

AtlasBarfed

Ah yes. Where there’s shit there’s always flies.

And no, the Democrats don’t get a pass, either. I’ve received emails from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Harry Reid and this one from MoveOn.org:

MoveOn

Yes, both sides do it.

Here’s my tip to both sides: exploiting government dysfunction with fundraising appeals is really bad optics. It sort of reaffirms for the rest of us what we’ve always suspected: that our current state of polarization and the resulting incompetence is by design. That we don’t actually have government dysfunction but rather a system which functions really well for certain groups — mainly the K Streeters and insiders who run things.

The rest of us depend on a functioning government for things like getting passports and FEMA aid and paychecks and food stamps and grants and highway repairs and a million other things. And this is very serious business for us.

So knock it off.

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Filed under Congress, fundraising

Ersatz Politics

Ted Cruz’s marathon bloviating session is no filibuster — he’s going to have to sit down and shut up when the Senate convenes this afternoon, because he doesn’t have the power to stop the cloture vote. But this little charade provides us with a useful peek behind the curtain of our modern political establishment.

You have a powerless faction pretending to take a bold stand on an issue that’s already been decided — after first negotiating the terms of this piece of theater with the opposition ahead of time. Meanwhile the facts-be-damned news media winks and nods and plays along, and partisans on both sides of the aisle prepare to exploit this for donations.

This isn’t politics, this isn’t even the peoples’ business, it’s theater. Or, as Charles Pierce put it, just part of the never-ending campaign that has taken over our modern American political discourse:

As has been pointed out, this is something of a mock filibuster, but that’s because it isn’t an attempt to do serious legislative business. It’s an extended campaign commercial, B-Roll for the local stations in Ottumwa and Council Bluffs.

Eggg-zackly. Really, that’s all this is — that’s all anything coming out of Washington is these days. It’s all one giant PR campaign as both sides scramble to “define the issue” (any issue, it doesn’t matter) and prepare the flood of fundraising e-mails and direct mail requests. Washington has become one vast telemarketing and direct mail operation. Ted Cruz is merely the clip art for this week’s campaign. Next week it will be someone else.

This isn’t me being cynical, this is reality. This is how Washington works today and make no mistake: is feature not bug. This politics of dysfunctional is working exactly as intended for those on the inside. It’s the raison d’etre for that whole “politico-industrial complex” I wrote about a year ago. Nothing has really changed except now the star players are members of Congress themselves.

With all of this going on it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that what Ted Cruz’s theater is all about is denying people access to affordable private, for-profit health insurance. Because no one really hears that amid all of the other Kabuki. And that’s the biggest shame of all.

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Filed under Congress, filibuster, healthcare, Media, media manipulation

A Tale Of Two Federal Budget Items

Wow, to hear House Republicans these days, the food stamp program called SNAP is rife with fraud and corruption, has grown too big and is adding to the budget deficit. It must die.

Meanwhile, the same people overwhelmingly supported a new defense bill which, while offering some good protections to victims of sexual assault, also was padded with lots of extra spending. Such as:

The bill also restricts the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, funds construction of a new East Coast missile defense site and gives the Pentagon $5 billion more than requested for the war in Afghanistan.

Well isn’t that peachy! Sequester, semeshter! Because we all know the Pentagon is never, ever corrupt, fraud never happens, and the Pentagon would never add to our budget deficit. Hey, empires are expensive, y’all! :

huffpo-20120208-militaryspendingUS

What a bunch of fiscal phonies. Guess they’re going to force Senate Democrats to vote against this, so they can run those lovely ads accusing such-and-such liberal of voting against helping sexual assault victims in the military. I can hear it now: “They accuse us of waging a war on women, but look what Senator McLefty CommieHippie did!”

Assholes. Two can play at that game. Look who took food out of the mouth of a hungry child so they can continue to fund wars and killing? And you call yourselves Christians? For shame.

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Filed under budget, Congress, defense, deficit, food, Pentagon, Republican Party

Dear NJ & NY: I’m Sorry

Every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted for the $50.5 billion Superstorm Sandy disaster relief package except my Congress Critter, Rep. Jim Cooper.

Every Democrat.

Sigh.

It’s 7 a.m. here, so obviously I haven’t had a chance to call his office yet and find out why he voted against Hurricane relief, especially after two years ago his own district got flooded and received federal aid. I’m going to guess we’ll hear the usual concerns about pork and debt and spending cuts and blah blah. Perhaps he’s still butthurt over the massive failure of Bowles-Simpson, which he brought to the floor last year with Rep. Steve LaTourette. That plan went down in flames, big-time.

But seriously, spare me the phony concerns about “pork.” It’s hard to take that seriously when I remember Cooper found federal money to build a parking garage for the private, Church Of Christ-affiliated David Lipscomb University a few years ago. Yes, the project included a bus shelter. But please. Lipscomb has got so much money they’re buying up houses in my neighborhood, tearing them down, and putting ginormous new buildings in their place — a nursing school, an engineering school, a pharmacy school. Let them build their own damn parking garage.

Sigh.

Anyway, someone on Twitter last night observed that anyone thinking Cooper can’t be primaried might want to consider all of the pissed off Democrats in New York and New Jersey right now who might be eager to donate to a rival’s campaign. That reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend the other day: this is the internet age, and the concept of Congressional districts has changed. We may physically live in one Congressional district, but more and more of us belong to ideological districts. Virtual districts, if you will. How many of us donated to the campaigns of candidates in other states? I know I have, lots.

People pissed off at a Democrat voting against disaster aid or the fiscal cliff deal might join forces with people in the district who have been itching for a more progressive representative for years. Blue Dogs are an endangered species in Congress. Cooper might have some explaining to do.

[UPDATE]:

Just to clarify, I’m not saying I support the idea of primarying Jim Cooper. Any scenario of that type would of course depend on who any potential candidate would be. But Cooper is only making himself more vulnerable. His district got more blue after redistricting, and if history is any judge, his Republican rival will be another Tea Party wackjob, just like the last ones have been. Those people won’t fly in the Fighting Fifth.

[UPDATE] 2:

Cooper’s office says he voted no because “it wasn’t paid for and will add $50 billion to deficit.”

So, kinda what I said: debt and spending and blah blah. Same old.

[UPDATE] 3:

WTF?

Pith: Why did you vote against the bill?

Cooper: The bill wasn’t paid for. In fact, it wasn’t even partially paid for. Congress really made no effort to pay for even a fracture of it, so it added $50 billion to the deficit. I did support last week $9 billion, free and clear, I did support in this legislation $20-plus billion free and clear, but the extra $30 billion really should have been at least partly paid for.

Talk about moving goalposts. First he complains that the bill “wasn’t even partially paid for,” then says nearly half of it was paid for, then complains that the full package wasn’t “even partially offset.”

Please, next time you want to screw my friends in the Northeast, try making some damn sense.

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Filed under Congress, Rep. Jim Cooper, Tennessee