Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

When Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama in 2009, New York governor David Paterson selected Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate vacancy.

Liberal Democrats, primarily from downstate (New York City) were not happy with the pick of the upstate Congresswoman with moderately conservative credentials. But, as Paterson knew, Gillibrand had won her House seat in 2006 and 2008 in a district gerrymandered to be in the Republican column.

As a Senator, she moved her political positions towards a far more liberal/progressive agenda. Her first early issue that I was aware of, though, didn’t seem to skew left or right, as she worked hard for passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

She has become a champion for victims of sexual assault, first in the military and then nationwide. She said, “This is a moment in time, unlike any other, with the ‘Me Too’ movement. Women are feeling the ability to tell what happened to them, some of the worst moments they’ve lived, and tell it publicly, and that is powerful and it is affecting everything.”

She’s also championed female candidates for office with the group Off The Sidelines, which professes not taking any corporate PAC money.

In 2017, no senator voted more often against the regime’s Cabinet nominees than Kirsten Gillibrand. She said recently: “We have a president who silences and demeans women, rigs the economy so corporations and the wealthiest few get richer while American families get by on less, allows the NRA to dictate his gun policy and threatens Dreamers with deportation from the country they call home. And what’s worse, the Republican Party has fallen in line behind him.”

A vulgar and suggestive message from the Tweeter-in-chief may have done her more political good than harm. The Washington Post reported that he raised her profile and fired up her supporters. She denies that she’s a contender for the 2020 presidential election.

She has been quite visible on television of late, including a 60 Minutes profile. “We are here to help people. We are here to put others first, to live a day in their shoes, to understand what their life is like and try to make it better.”

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for re-election to the Senate in 2018, and it appears extremely unlikely that she could lose.

For ABC Wednesday

There were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called ““skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare in July 2017. One was John McCain of Arizona, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer. The other two were women who had been bucking their party all that week, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All, it could be argued, put principle before party.

The female senators were on receiving end of insults from male officials. “They were told that they… deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals.”

Senator Murkowski is particularly interesting to me because she has won three full terms to the Senate, yet has never won a majority of the vote. “Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father’s unexpired term, which ended in January 2005. She ran for and won a full term in 2004,” with 48.5% of the vote.

“She ran for a second term in 2010. She lost the Republican Party nomination to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the General Election,” with 39.5% of the vote, “making her the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond [of South Carolina] in 1954.”

In fact, I predicted that victory in this very blog on 2 November 2010:
“But I will go out on a limb to say that I think Lisa Murkowski will barely retain her Senate seat in Alaska. Three-way polling is much less reliable than that done for a two person race.

“Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list. Good news: she has great name recognition in the state. Bad news: she’s been around a long time, and her father before her. Good news: it is established that a vote for a write-in candidate must be counted, if the intent is clear.”

So someone drawing the three pictures on this page could be seen as voting for Murkowski, like so:

“The French word for sea is MER + COW + SKI = Murkowski.”

In 2016, she won again, with 44% of the vote. The political threats have not fazed her, maybe because she doesn’t have to run for office again until 2022.

For ABC Wednesday

Our first contestant in Ask Roger Anything -you may still participate! is Jaquandor, writer of fine books, who asks:

To what degree does the phrase “President Trump” still fill you with stunned disbelief?

It used to be about 11 on a scale of 10. Now it’s only 9.89. To this day, there are people who say I dislike him because my candidate lost. This is not at all the case. I never felt as though his predecessors lacked the ethos of being President, even when I vigorously disagreed with their positions, such as W on the Iraq war.

This guy, though, either doesn’t know how to be Presidential or actively chooses not to be. I never thought He goes on Twitter, finds a video of him hitting a golf ball and his shot “hitting” Hillary Clinton. So, like a juvenile, he retweets it.

He comes up with an unclever name for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man” – isn’t that what he wants Kim to STOP doing? The New Yorker’s David Borowitz had some satirical fun with this: In War of Elton John Lyrics, Kim Jong Un Calls Trump “Honky Cat” .

And then Trump, possibly encouraged by his shrinking base, uses it AGAIN in his address to the United Nations. This appears to be the dangerous taunting by an adolescent.

And Kim’s use of the word dotard – “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person” – put many Americans in the uncomfortable position of wondering whether he was onto something.

His threatened withdrawal of the Iran nuclear agreement makes creating a deal with North Korea even more difficult. Since the United States agreed to VOLUNTARY benchmarks for our participation in the Paris climate change accord, the US withdrawal doesn’t even make sense. Our allies oppose our leaving the Paris accords, and most feel the same on the Iran deal.

Trump pardons a criminal sheriff, who violated hundreds of people’s civil rights. He declares that Nazis and white supremacists can be “good people.” Then he calls NFL players who kneel for the national anthem “sons of bitches” who should be fired. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rightly released a statement saying Trump’s comments are “divisive” and show a lack of respect for the league, the game, and the players.

His behavior, to borrow a term, is unpresidented.

He supports various pieces of legislation in Congress without seeming to have any idea what they mean. He said that Cassidy-Graham, the now-dead latest iteration of “let’s kill Obamacare”, was “better than the other bills” the Senate tried to pass in 2017. Given the fact that the new bill’s impact hadn’t been fully explored by the Congressional Budget Office, this assertion seems dubious.

His anti-immigrant positions have helped lead foreign students to choose to go to college in Canada, travelers abroad to avoid the United States and the DACA families to feel destabilized in the US. I won’t even get into the migrant farm workers who won’t be there to pick the crops.

His insensitivity towards Puerto Rico in its hour of need is not only appalling but possibly self-serving.

So, yes, it’s difficult to believe that any “normal” President could be so terrible so quickly. See The Seth Abramson Trump Tweetstorm.

Referring to the 154th mass shooting in 2017, the Los Angeles Times noted:

“Even though members of Congress were attacked Wednesday by a gunman on a ball field just outside the capital, nothing is likely to change in the Washington debate over gun control, save the addition of Alexandria to the list of blood-soaked postmarks.

“The two sides of the debate are simply too dug in, the political forces too firmly entrenched, the worldview of opposing sides so vastly different it is impossible to see how the gulf narrows even slightly, however close to home the latest attack.

“Underscoring that notion, the one thing both sides shared after the latest mass shooting was the capacity to look at precisely the same event and see it in a way that buttressed diametrically opposing views.”

All that wonderful unity at the charity baseball game, yet:

A GOP Congressman Thinks It’s Obama’s Fault. Some Republicans on the far right point to “vitriolic rhetoric on the left,” which could be to blame for the gunfire that hit a GOP leader and others at a congressional baseball practice. GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa says that “the violence is incited by the leading cultural voices of the Left.”

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responds, “How dare they?”, noting the dramatic escalation in hate crimes from the “alt right” and white supremacists, and GOPUSA scolds Pelosi for breaking the “unity”.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and nearly killed by an assassin, called for sympathy and understanding, which was met with hate.

There’s a reasonable observation in the right wing Legal Insurrection about getting off the rhetorical merry-go-round: “The collective desire to be ‘right’ and to prove wrongness is hindering our ability to find even the smallest shred of consensus” is counterproductive, and other sensible points. But as Red State, another rightist publication noted, the comments section of the LI article is riddled with condemnation for the writer.

Arthur wrote: “”Claiming that only ‘the other side’ is responsible for the current disgusting nature of US politics—as always happens when there’s something like this shooting—is merely part of that same sick politics, boiled in its broth of seething resentment and baked within its self-righteous shell.”

As is often the case, the Onion gets the last word: “In the wake of [the] mass shooting in Alexandria, VA, every single American from across the political spectrum was reportedly able to cite the tragedy as irrefutable proof that they had been right about everything all along.”

I guess I’m not zeitgeisty enough – no, I don’t think it’s a word – because the anticipation over former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 made me oddly uncomfortable.

As an old poli sci major who sat in front the TV set for HOURS taking in all the nuance of the various committees investigating Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal back in the 1970s, I suppose I should be happy that the American public is interested in a civics lesson.

But it was more like theater, specifically a movie theater, where comedian/late night host Stephen Colbert is seen eating from a bag of popcorn. As the Boston Globe put it, “Comey’s testimony puts Washington in party mode.” As some conservative website noted, “The hearing was treated like a major sporting event by D.C. locals, who lined up to gain entrance to local establishments for standing-room only viewing parties.”

And it wasn’t limited to the District of Columbia. “Festivities” seemed to be particularly popular on the West Coast, with folks at bars in time for the 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time event.

At the end of the day, almost no one was convinced of anything they hadn’t been thinking before except that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) seemed befuddled. Those who dislike the regime think that impeachment is just around the corner. Those on the other side believe they’re, in the words of Lou Dobbs, “No crime, No evidence.” Comey was just a “disgruntled employee.” I saw that specific description a lot.

At the end of the day, it’s what Bob Woodward, Washington Post editor, and one of the reporters who helped bring down Nixon said on CBS News This Morning: “We know 5, maybe 10 percent of what we will know” when the various investigations are over.

No, there was no smoking gun, yet. Nor was the regime “vindicated”; saw THAT word a lot, especially on the Twitter feed #MAGA, where I actually read:
“He is bringing back respect and class to this country
#proudAmerican #TRUMPPENCE2020 #MAGA #BUILDTHEWALL #YESTRAVELBAN #DTS#JOBSJOBSJOBS #OBAMASFORPRISON2017 #CLINTONSFORPRISON2017 #STOPTHELEAKS#STOPFAKENEWS #CNNVERYFAKENEWS #MSNBCFAKENEWS #CBSFAKENEWS #ABCFAKENEWS#NYTIMESFAKENEWS #WASHINGTONPOSTFAKENEWS #LATIMESFAKENEWS #USATODAYFAKENEWS#GOOGLEFAKENEWS #YAHOOFAKENEWS”

Regardless of the results of the investigations, his secret isn’t that he lies. It’s that he crowds out the truth. “The question isn’t whether you’re winning the argument — it’s whether you’re dominating and driving the coverage of the argument.”

I will acknowledge that clearing the room of other people, then being asked by a person in a superior position if you would consider taking a particular action reeks to high heaven, to my mind.

Watergate took a LONG time to unravel, over two years from the break-in to the resignation. This Russia influence/election rigging thing is going to take awhile too. It won’t be solved with a few hours of testimony, but people want more rapid gratification when it simply not how these things work. Or, as some folks interviewed on NBC News this week acknowledged, “It’s too complicated.”

I think, like those in the slow cooking movement, we ought to take our time and let the facts simmer, with the evidence determining the results of the investigation. Because no one still supporting the regime will convince those who don’t of a damn thing, and pretty much vice versa.

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