Posts tagged ‘House of Representatives’

March 23, 2011

House GOP Takes Up P90X

by Vince

Paul Ryan and other House of Representatives are bringing it:

To achieve that second set of goals, a group gathers most days around two televisions in the House gym to follow a series of DVD workout routines known to late-night infomercial fans as P90X, the “most extreme home fitness training program.”

As have thousands of insomniac former couch potatoes, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and a crew of young Republicans have taken to the P90X workout routines with an ideological intensity. For the lawmakers, it’s a get-tough fitness dogma that mirrors their promises to pump up job growth and chisel away flabby federal programs.

They may think like Gingrich and Reagan, but “we want to look like Tony,” says P90X devotee Rep. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.).

As for House Speaker John Boehner:

Mr. Boehner, a smoker and neat freak, vacuums, takes early-morning walks and rides his bicycle around monuments.

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November 5, 2010

Making Sense of the Midterms: Part 1

by Vince

Here I go.

As the NY Times show, the GOP gained 60 House seats and 6 Senate seats. This was the biggest “shellacking”, taken from Obama’s wording, in 70 years. I don’t intend to spin this any which way but I want to look a bit at what could come from all this.

To start, Dave True blogged on this election here and here. As he mentions, this week is truly a hard one if you are a Democrat / Liberal / Progressive and a victorious one if you are a Republican / Conservative. It is unclear what the GOP controlled House can do with a Democratic Senate and President. Some may think back to 1994. However, this is far from 1994 in many ways. The pressure, to a moderate degree, I believe, will be on the GOP to 1) produce something of worth for their base 2) mount a surge for a president (they need a viable candidate first) 3) and figure out what to do with the differing ideologies between Republicans and the staunchly Conservative Tea Party.

For the first, they have put forth the Pledge to America. It is an ode to basic America; we don’t need no damn 1,000 page documents, give us it in them there plain language without the expert hoopla. The Pledge, however, could clash with Democratic Washington in terms of vetoes and votes. Even if the were to produce something of worth, I question whether their proposals would cut $100 billion in one year (this would be the most since 1963 when they first started tracking this) or even the debt in general over a course of time. I will go off in a bit on my views regarding the tax cuts for the rich. Be ready for that.

On number 2, there are a plethora of candidates out there in GOP land openly moving or tip toeing towards the GOP nomination: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich (?), Sarah Palin (?), Herman Cain (??), and a handful of other Senators / Reps. Can any of them truly touch Obama politically? Maybe I am so far removed from the bullshit spin, but I see Obama as a very well thought out president through and through, a non-Christianist pick (there is a difference between a Christianist and a Christian, just as there is a difference between a Muslim and a Islamist), fair, and extremely smart. His grass roots will need to support him on this. With the recent mid term hit for Democrats, I don’t take it as a total blow directed towards Obama himself but to a large degree what is expected when it comes to voting during the midterms for a first term president, especially when the economy is quite grim.

Finally, Draino wondered the other day if the Tea Party will be thrown under the bus by the Republicans. If that happened, I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing. Just imagine that: a grass roots group being used for their political zeal to put a group of politicians in office only to be punked. Going back to 1994, Newt Gingrich had a plan, and by plan, he meant shut down Washington and lead towards a deeper sense of polarization. That backfired, had Bill Clinton looking like the good guy (he was nearly invicible, if you think about it), and as Paul Krugman believes, “may even deter the GOP from being too confrontational this time around.”

November 3, 2010

Quote of the Week

by Vince

“Ok American….here is what just happened. Neither Candidate that ran for the House and Senate ran on a promise of bi partisanship. Instead, they ran to “change America” in their own view point which is the exact same reason that they hate the President and the Democrats.

So in short we have decreased bi partisanship and increased ignorance greed and filibusters in an America that does not want to wait.” –Todd Allen, a former Methods classmate of mine. This is true and is worth noting by both sides once the “red high” wears off.

September 30, 2010

Both Parties Fall Short With the Deficit

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan, Megan McArdle, Dan Drezner, et al chime in:

The current GOP leadership is absolutely not serious about it, will have no mandate to do anything serious if they win the House this fall, and no-one, Democrat, Republican or Independent, should be under any illusions about that. That includes those well-meaning members of the tea-party movement who somehow think that electing the same Republican party will help us. Remember who told us: “deficits don’t matter.”

That was Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Rove and Mary Cheney are helping to organize and fund the GOP campaigns.

This all makes me disillusioned towards politics but somewhat removes me from its tentacles. I don’t have to feel loyal to one side or standard, and that is nice because both have dropped the ball with the deficit, almost equally in my eyes.

September 25, 2010

The GOP’s “Pledge to America”

by Vince

The Grand Old Party is anticipating itself controlling the House of Representatives after the midterm elections. In that case, they have a list of demands. I wish I could download it. It sent me through some scam Facebook application. If someone can get a direct link to download this .pdf, shoot me a copy via email.

There are no details of who wrote this document. It is rather short (21 pages), but that is the practicalness of the GOP; they hated that the Dems had 1,000+ page documents that they and their three lawyers still couldn’t fully read or “understand”.

After reading it, I believe that it has the same tone as the rest of the Tea Party / fringe conservatives. I will fas forward to the National Security page (pg 19 and on). Lets begin with noting their tone:

And we will never apologize for advancing the cause of freedom and democracy around the world, nor will we abandon our historic role in lifting up those who struggle to receive the blessings of liberty.

American Exceptionalism at any cost, no matter what. The Dems have their larger government and the GOP has their larger military. The latter seems to forget that.

Here are their promises:

Pass Clean Troop Funding Bills: When asked to provide our troops with the resources they need, we will do so without delay. That means no more troop funding bills held up by unrelated policy changes, or extraneous domestic spending and pork-barrel projects.

Is that really really possible? To me, it sounds of the chant, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war.” The military gets anything they want, even if there is question of whether we can execute and “win” a war, find WMDs, or repeating the quagmire in Vietnam.

Demand an Overarching Detention Policy: Foreign terrorists do not have the same rights as American citizens, nor do they have more rights than U.S. military personnel.We will work to ensure foreign terrorists, such as the 9/11 conspirators, are tried in military, not civilian, court.We will oppose all efforts
to force our military, intelligence, and law enforcement personnel operating overseas to extend “Miranda Rights” to foreign terrorists.

Rich right wing hubris is dripping from the above paragraph. Lets try them in military courts that have convicted far far far fewer terrorists than civilian courts. Where is the love that Jesus talked about in this document?

The next were proposed for Congress:

We will fight to ensure transparency and accountability in Congress and throughout government.

You didn’t do this with the torturing of enemy combattents in Gitmo, nor were you transparent with the growth of the security state.

We will continue to fight the growth of government and oppose new stimulus spending that only puts our nation further into debt.

Under George W. Bush, your party began the stimulus bail out that you so loath.

We will fight efforts to fund the costly new health care law.

Between 1995 and 2007, the GOP had control of two houses. Where was your plan then?

We will fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain.

Iraq war, oil, and the Bush family?

Now for more of their proposed spending cuts.

With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt. We will also establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending from this point forward. We will launch a sustained effort to stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade.By cutting Congress’ budget, imposing a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees, and reviewing every current government program to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs, we can curb Washington’s irresponsible spending habits and reduce the size of government, while still fulfilling our necessary obligations.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, “without tackling entitlements, none of this matters a jot.” Here are some final reactions that sum up my thoughts and others on this document:

Sullivan:

Given the gravity of the debt crisis, this is the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP. It is to the far right of Reagan, who raised taxes and eventually cut defense, and helped reform social security to ensure its longterm viability. It is an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance of the US, and in this global economic climate, a recipe for a double-dip recession and default. It is the opposite of responsible conservatism.

Nick Gillespie:

1. For much of, oh, the past decade, the GOP has been staggeringly incompetent in defining themselves as the party of small government. Their standard-bearer, George W. Bush, managed to jack up total federal outlays 104 percent over his predecessor in eight short years, and he either signed off on or strong-armed all sorts of big-government projects through both Republican and Democratic majorities (No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription Drugs, McCain-Feingold, Sarbanes-Oxley, endless war supplemental spending bills, TARP, auto bailouts, etc.).

Outside the Beltway:

Adhering to the Constitution: This is another one that’s popular among the Tea Party crowd, but which is also pretty much meaningless. A rule requiring Congress to cite the Constitutional authority for an specific bill isn’t going to stop Congress from acting. For most legislation, all they’ll have to do it cite to the Commerce Clause, the General Welfare Clause, or theNecessary and Proper Clause and their job is done. Thanks to a century or more of  Supreme Court jurisprudence, there is very little that the Congress wants to do that it can’t do under the Constitution as that document is currently interpreted.

Erik Erickson:

Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity. But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high. It is dreck — dreck with some stuff I like, but like Brussels sprouts in butter… Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten.

Jonathan Bernstein:

[W]hat really struck me as I went through it the first time was the foreign policy section, which is…how should I say this…amateurish and pathetic.  What’s the current Republican foreign policy?  Stripping out the immigration stuff from that section of the document, what remains is (1) Gitmo; (2) Missile defense; and (3) threatening Iran.  That’s it.  Iraq and Afghanistan are referred to once, in passing.  There’s nothing at all about what the United States should do in those nations.  Nothing about Pakistan.  Nothing about Russia, or China (China at least gets one mention, in the context of the deficit).  Nothing about Europe. The rest of the world?  Obviously not.

Kevin Sullivan:

[W]ith all of the huffing and puffing we have heard – and indeed continue to hear – from conservatives about Obama’s “appeasement” of Iran, are these same critics thus satisfied by a short and simple pledge to enforce “tough sanctions against Iran”? I believe this demonstrates just how easy it is to be one of the two main political party on the outs in the United States. Ideological rigidity, or, in the specific case of Iran, radical statements about preparing for a regime change, make for good soundbites and exchanges on the Sunday morning shows, but they don’t resemble, as far as I can tell, the actual Republican plan for governance regarding the Islamic Republic – and that’s a good thing. All this could change, of course, in 2012 …

Adam Serwer:

There’s one bright spot in the GOP’s “pledge.” No where are their any promises, euphemistic or otherwise, to ensure that torturous “enhanced interrogation techniques” are used again. Although having attacked Obama for months over ending torture, it begs the question of why, if torture is so important to national security, Republicans haven’t put it in their policy platform. It’s almost as if they were willing to lionize torture just to make the administration look bad.

Steven Taylor:

To be honest, this document is designed to make GOP base voters happy, which is fine as far as that goes.  It is, after all, a campaign pamphlet (granted, a long one).  It is not, however, a real blueprint for policy.  Instead it amounts to pledges for themes popular with the base:   tax cuts, vague spending cuts, repeal of health care reform, and symbolic (not to mention bogus) promises to read bills and ensure their constitutionality.

Plus more here and here, first on health care and second on fiscal responsibility.

September 11, 2010

“They went to save survivors, not raise taxes”

by Vince

Another notch against the House Republicans who claim to be from the “patriotic, we speak on behalf of all of those who died or risked their lives on 9/11” party. This leaves me without words.

August 11, 2010

Election Map

by Vince

A neat guide for the House, Senate, and Gubernatorial races across the USA.

August 3, 2010

Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty

by Vince

GOP Rep. Bob Inglis (R.-S.C), who was voted out in a run-off election 29 to 71 percent, tells of his issues with the current Tea Party / Conservative platform. This article is worth the full read; it describes the hysteria on the fringe, Right wing, Glenn Beck loving side of the GOP:

During his primary campaign, Inglis repeatedly encountered enraged conservatives whom he couldn’t—or wouldn’t—satisfy. Shortly before the runoff primary election, Inglis met with about a dozen tea party activists at the modest ranch-style home of one of them. Here’s what took place:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!” And I said, “Please forgive me. I’m just ignorant of these things.” And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in. Wow.

July 29, 2010

The War Report: July 29th

by Vince

I feel like starting a special series on the war(s) at hand. I will provide various news reporting’s, commentaries, and analyses.

Andrew Sullivan and the AP report that the Pentagon cannot account for billions of dollars spent in Iraq. The report from MSNBC includes Afghanistani efforts:

A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for more than 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country.

The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year — more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.

An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.

An Afghanistan War funding pact was passed by the House:

The House voted 308-114 to approve the spending boost for the additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Other nonwar provisions brought the total bill to nearly $59 billion.

Republicans in Congress still were strongly behind the boost in war spending, but there was unusually strong opposition from members of Obama’s own party. All but 12 of the “no” votes in the House came from Democrats.

In debate before the vote, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said the leaked documents revealed corruption and incompetence in the Afghan government. “We’re told we can’t extend unemployment or pay to keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom,” he said, “but we’re asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan.”

Obama’s ace in the hole in all of these wars is seen as Hilary Clinton:

In fact, Clinton, who was supposed to ignite the flames of conservatives’ hatred, is becoming more popular every day across the political spectrum. Her hawkish foreign policy views gain her support on the right, and her well-known views on domestic policy keep the home fires burning on the left. The two fields intersect in one of the areas where she displays the greatest passion, her signature foreign- policy issue: the need to empower women in poor countries in order to transform the world.

Finally, Karl Rove wonders why there isn’t more American hubris in our approach to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

The president and prime minister declared their solidarity on the Afghanistan war. Both leaders “reaffirmed our commitment to the overall strategy,” in Mr. Cameron’s words. Mr. Obama said that approach aimed to “build Afghan capacity so Afghans can take responsibility for their future,” a point Mr. Cameron called “a key part” of the coalition’s strategy.

All well and good. But neither leader uttered the word “victory” or “win” or any other similar phrase. They made it sound as if the strategic goal was to stand up the Afghan security forces, leave as soon as that was done, and hope the locals were up to keeping things together.

Rove must not know that the Taliban have never had double-digit popularity levels in Afghanistan.