The Watering Hole, Monday, February 2, 2015: Speaker Logan?

After the French Revolution, tensions had risen between the USA and France. Many French revolutionaries felt we had not aided them enough, and after we signed the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, France authorized the seizing of American ships and taking prisoners. In 1797 President Adams sent John Marshall, Charles C. Pinckney, and Elbridge Gerry (who would later try to redraw political districts that reminded people of a salamander in order to give him an electoral advantage, thus giving birth to the term “Gerrymander”) to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Instead, the result was what would become known as the XYZ Affair and an unsuccessful trip. After their return, a Philadelphia Quaker named Dr. George Logan decided on his own to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement. He was successful and France agreed to stop seizing ships and to release their prisoners. This did not go over well with President John Adams and he recommended that Congress pass a law to stop the “temerity and impertinence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States.” The result was the Logan Act. As amended today, the act reads:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

The Act does grant an exception for private citizens who wish to sue a foreign government for injuries, but that’s it. And when you think about it, it makes sense. For example, would you want the Koch Brothers to be allowed to legally negotiate their own agreement with the government of Canada regarding the tar sands oil? Would you want them to then be allowed to go into court and demand that the Keystone XL Pipeline be built because they had a contract and that contract must be honored? Bad idea. Better to not let them have that negotiation in the first place, especially if our government is not in favor of the project. (The Republicans are, because they only care about businesses earning huge profits, even foreign ones. President Obama will veto it.)

In the 200+ year history of the Logan Act there has never been anyone prosecuted under it. There was a farmer who was indicted, but that was over something he had written regarding the land which eventually became the Louisiana Purchase. He was never prosecuted and the Purchase quelled the entire argument being made. (Plus, I’m not so sure he would have been prosecuted, since he only advocated in a letter to a newspaper for something. I don’t believe he actually negotiated with anyone in France.) There have been arguments made (not in court) that the Logan Act may be unconstitutional, but there have also been numerous references to it in other court decisions. And the basic idea that the President is the only one who can negotiate on behalf of the United States has been mentioned several times in court rulings. So while nobody has been prosecuted (including Rev Jesse Jackson and Jane Fonda), the law remains in effect. Which brings us to Speaker John Boehner.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama said this about Iran:

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.

But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.

Iran has made it clear that they will stop enriching uranium and negotiate with other countries about its nuclear program provided the United States does not pass any sanctions bill before the talks are concluded. So what do Republicans want to so? They want to pass a sanctions bill anyway that would take effect if the talks break down. What they seem unable to grasp is that the very act of passing a sanctions bill (even if and when it does get vetoed by Obama) could be the trigger that ends the talks. It truly makes me wonder if Republicans want Peace or not. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views Iran as an existential threat, which is just another way of saying, “Even if they don’t try to harm us today, they probably might try to tomorrow, or they might decide to help someone else harm us, so let’s go to war with them before anyone attacks us.” This is not a workable foreign policy, this is paranoia. But since Republicans want to deny Obama any kind of victory at all, on any subject at all, they decided to try to thwart Obama’s foreign policy by inviting Netanyahu to address our Congress, specifically on why we shouldn’t enter into this agreement with Iran. It’s pretty clear that this invitation, arranged and negotiated without the knowledge of the White House (until a few hours before it was publicly announced), is a violation of the Logan Act. The purpose of both the invitation and of the address is to “defeat the measures of the United States,” and it clearly violates the Logan Act. The President has already said he would not meet with Netanyahu because they have an election coming up. And we know that Netanyahu thinks it’s wrong to do something like this because he said so himself, almost 20 years ago. When then-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited the US in 1997, just before he faced an election, opposition leader Netanyahu said, “I can’t find an example of any previous Israeli government whose prime minister, on the eve of elections, made a cynical attempt to use relations between Israel and the United States as a party advertisement.” Being so hypocritical, it’s no wonder he enjoys such support from the Republican Party (a/k/a The American Likud Party.)

This is our daily open thread. Talk about anything you want, just don’t invite any foreign heads of state to address our Congress. That would be bad.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 10th, 2014: Mitch Makes Plans

Today I’m just going to throw a few topics out here, good, bad, or meh

A few excerpts from yesterday’s Washington Post article by Lori Montgomery and Robert Costa, headlined (rather lengthily) “GOP crafts narrow agenda for new Congress, seeking unity, Democratic votes”:

“Within hours of solidifying their control of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner were quietly laying plans for a series of quick votes in January aimed at erasing their obstructionist image ahead of the 2016 elections.

Considering the previous unfortunate efforts of the Republican Party to slap a different varnish on their tarnished image, I can only cringe wondering what kind of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser(tm) “quick votes” these two have in mind. What would they deregulate first? IOW, what will be the Rs’ first BS “repeal this job killer” meme in 2015? And are Boehner and McConnell, while “seeking unity”, keeping an eye on their own far-right-flank tea-nut gallery? Megalomaniac Senator Ted Cruz (R-PlanetTexas) is not one to allow the limelight to stray far from him, and is already making obstructionist noises. Boehner and McConnell are fools – yes, I could stop right there, but – if they think that Cruz is going to bow to their so-called “leadership.”

“First up: Action on long-stalled bills with bipartisan support, including measures to repeal an unpopular tax on medical devices and approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Whoa, tortoise, whoa! [gets out baseball bat, “I said WHOA!”] Why you sly bastards! First, Boehner and McConnell know damn well that repealing the medical devices tax, however unpopular it may or may not be, will undermine one of the sources for funding the PPACA, aka Obamacare. Boehner has been shown by FactCheck.org to have been lying about the negative effect that the Medical Device Tax would have on jobs. Repealing the Medical Device Tax is just one way that the Republicans would start to unravel the PPACA without actually repealing the act itself.

Now let’s get to “approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.” It seems that everyone, except the few people/companies who stand to gain from the construction of the pipeline, is against that. This is definitely an example of the incredibly ballsy, obviously and provably false claims that the project would be a “job creator.” Temporary American jobs, yes; a few (50 or so) permanent American jobs, yes; but nowhere near the thousands that the pipeline’s proponents would have us believe. There are so many good arguments against the Keystone XL, it’s truly amazing that any politician is still promoting it; unless, of course, well-funded interests are funding them.

There’s loads more from the WaPo article, but there’s also more information in the New Republic’s article called “This is How the New GOP Senate will try to Dismantle Obamacare”, by Jonathan Cohn.

So far everything points to the Rs major obsession for the past several years – if they can’t repeal the ACA, they’ll just kill it with a thousand cuts.

This is our daily open thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 3rd, 2012: Thank You, Mr. President

Gee, I feel so special: the President’s Campaign Manager wrote directly to ME! Yeah, I know, everyone on their mailing list received this email, but…anyway, here’s Jim Messina’s email, featuring President Obama’s explanation of the deal that he made to ruin John Boehner’s career keep middle-class Americans from being hit with a tax increase:

Jane —

The President reached an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in Congress on the “fiscal cliff” that prevents a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses, while fulfilling the President’s promise to ask the wealthiest Americans to begin to pay their fair share to reduce the deficit.

President Obama recorded a video to update supporters like you on what’s in the agreement and what it means for you — watch it and share it with friends and family:

It’s thanks to people like you who spoke up and contacted your members of Congress throughout this debate that we were able to avoid a crippling tax hike.

As we address our ongoing fiscal challenges, the President will do exactly what he said he would on the campaign trail — working for the middle class and all those fighting to get into it, and building an economy from the middle out, not the top down.

There will be more soon. For now, thanks for all you do, and happy new year.

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 3rd, 2012: Conservative BS on Taxes

Since I forced myself to wallow in some of the crap on Newsmax, I figured that I should share some of the sliminess with you all. Let’s start with the arrogantly delusional George Will, who manages to squeeze a lie into each paragraph of his dementia-driven article. Here’s just a few examples of Will’s drivel; he starts off with:

“With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved healthcare — expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed “fiscal cliff,” the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party’s agenda.”

– and –

“…he surely understands that the entitlement state he favors requires raising taxes on the cohort that has most of the nation’s money — the middle class.”

– and –

“Republicans…respond that because lower rates reduce incentives to distort economic decisions, they promote growth by enhancing efficiency. Hence restoration of the higher rates would be a giant step away from, and might effectively doom, pro-growth tax reform…Furthermore, restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes. Hence Republicans rightly resist higher rates.”

On to forever-lugubrious John Boehner:

“I would say we’re nowhere, period,” Boehner said on a taped segment of the “Fox News Sunday” program that aired today. “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing.”

Yet, from the same article:

“Obama has proposed a framework that would raise taxes immediately on top earners and set an Aug. 1 deadline for rewriting the tax code and deciding on spending cuts, according to administration officials. It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax increases, $350 billion in cuts in health programs, $250 billion in cuts in other programs and $800 billion in assumed savings from the wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Next, we’ve got the ubiquitous Grover Norquist. Norquist, despite a growing number of Republicans attempting to put some daylight between themselves and the Norquist pledge, stated last week:

“Well, the Republicans also have other leverage. Continuing resolutions on spending and the debt ceiling increase. They can give him debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short leash, you know, here’s your allowance, come back next month…Monthly if he’s good. Weekly if he’s not.”

In the Newsmax article, Norquist continues in the same childish vein, threatening “Tea Party 2“:

“Republicans want to continue the Bush tax cuts, and the extenders and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] package . . . it’s the president who’s threatening to raise taxes if he stamps his feet and doesn’t get his way.”

And in case you aren’t sickened enough by those three, there’s the Sue Ann Niven of the Republicans, Peggy Noonan, saying:

“The election is over, a new era begins — and it looks just like the old one…A crisis is declared. Confusion, frustration, and a more embittered process follow. This is the Obama Way.”

Got your blood boiling yet?

This is our daily open thread — it’s Monday, wake up and start discussing something!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 10, 2012: Republicans Still Don’t Get Governing

In his remarks following Tuesday’s elections, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-House of Orange) said that in working with the President, the Republicans would not compromise their principles. But that is the essence of governing – compromising. You’re never going to get everything you want, especially if your party doesn’t control all of government, so you agree to give up some of what you want if the other guy will do the same. But Republicans believe that “compromising” means the other guy completely abandons his positions and comes over to yours before you start negotiating.

I really don’t understand where the Republican Party got this idea that the country has taken a hard turn to the Right. It never did! Our greatest achievements as a nation, our greatest advances forward, were based on Liberal ideas, not Conservative ones. In fact, the Conservatives opposed much of that advancement, and continue to fight against it. When Liberals said that too many old people were dying just because they were too poor to live and that we, as a nation, should help the elderly with a national pension system so they can grow old in dignity, the Conservatives said, “Now wait a minute…” When Liberals said we should give our soldiers returning home from War a chance to get a decent education, so they may prosper in life and make a better life for their children, the Conservatives said, “Now wait a minute…” When Liberals said that there ought to be a law that makes it harder to deny black people their constitutional right to vote just because they’re black, the Conservatives said, “Now wait a minute…” And when Liberals said it ought to be against the law to beat somebody up just because they’re gay, the Conservatives said, “Now wait a minute…”

Every single social achievement our nation has made has been from embracing Liberal ideas and rejecting Conservative opposition. So when Republicans insist that our side should compromise with theirs, I ask, “Why?” They haven’t been on the right side of history yet. Elections have consequences and the Republicans lost seats in Congress this election. The American people have said that they don’t like what the Republicans and Conservatives have to offer, and don’t want more of it. I will make the bold prediction right here and now that when the elections of 2014 are over, the Democrats will have solid majorities in both Houses. And then we’ll really begin to undo the severe damage that Republican and Conservative principles have brought upon this nation.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the lameness of the Republican party or any other topic you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 28th, 2012: Decisions, Decisions

On this, the day on which the Supreme Court is supposed to announce their decision regarding the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), I offer first a few articles from Wednesday’s Washington Post:

In the first article, John Boehner issues a typical lugubrious pronoucement, and Eric Cantor chimes in, too:

“We’ve made it pretty clear and I’ll make it clear one more time: If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what’s left of it,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Wednesday morning. “‘Obamacare’ is driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) added that the health law “was a mistake. We would like to see the kind of health care that will allow patients to make decisions, not bureaucrats here in Washington.”
[Yes, the kind of health care that will allow patients to make decisions, like whether they should get that needed prescription, or buy food. Patients, not bureaucrats, can make their own decisions unless the patient is a pregnant woman.]

“As we know, this bill has also presented big problems for our employers,” Cantor added. “Small businessmen and women are having a difficult time keeping the lights on, much less hiring new people. ‘Obamacare’ just makes it more difficult because it makes it more expensive for these business people to create jobs.”

[Then what was keeping those business people from creating jobs in the Bush years, before “Obamacare”?]

As I commented on an excellent article at our local online newspaper, the Southeast-Brewster Patch, “And does Speaker Boehner not see that the two are connected? Does he have any explanation as to WHY healthcare costs continue to rise? Do the Republicans who want to repeal the PPACA – and yes, some say “repeal and replace” – have any concrete solutions to the rising healthcare costs?”

Perhaps some of my questions were answered by this paragraph in the same WP article:

“Beyond their general comments, neither Boehner nor Cantor provided specifics on their path forward, waiting until the court rules before spelling out any further plans. But Republican aides have said in recent weeks that the House is unlikely to vote on any significant health-care-related legislation before the November elections — other than efforts to repeal the entire law if the high court doesn’t — preferring instead to keep focused on more overt attempts to boost job creation, strip away federal regulations and renew various tax cuts.”

[De-regulation, and tax cuts for the corporations – yeah, how’d that work out for Bush? Sigh]

I’ll leave you with two more articles from WP, one infuriating, one informative.

Possibly by the time you finish reading this post, the SCROTUS/SCREWEDUS (thanks, RUC) will have announced their decision. Hopefully, we won’t have to see a repeat of this:

Justice Antonin Scalia

UPDATE: The SCOTUS has decided that the Individual Mandate is Constitutional, read the text of the decision here.

This is our daily open thread — have at it!

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, August 3, 2011: The end of the world averted!

Well, we all get to blame Obama for caving in and agreeing to 98% of Boehner’s demands. Boehner had the guts to destroy the entire world economy if he didn’t get what he wanted, and he succeeded. Obama didn’t want to see the entire globe fall into chaos, so he failed. Huh?

Life goes on, Social Security Checks will go out, the U.S. will keep its coveted AAA rating in the financial markets, for now at least. Seems like Obama achieved his goals, too. Maybe more so than Boehner. Let’s face it, Obama dealt with an enemy that advocated and rejoiced in the notion that it would hurt people. If Obama’s first and most important task is to protect the American People from harm, he succeeded.

But this episode proved, once and for all, that extortion by the rich WORKS! The rich didn’t give up one single tax break. They got 98% of what they wanted. And as long as there is a privleged class, they will continue to extort concessions from the rest of us. That is, until we realize we outnumber them, and that collectively, we have more power than they do.

***

A return to the “good old days.” That’s what the Teabaggers want. But it’s not the good old days of the 1950’s. Its the good old days of the 1850’s…the days of the Wild West.

In the Wild West, everyone was self-reliant. There was little to no government, and the 2nd Amendment Solution settled most disputes. Slavery was still legal, women couldn’t vote and knew their place, either keeping house or working at the brothels. The downtrodden victims of the industrial revolution, working for a pittance in dangerous conditions with no job protections had been left behind in the Eastern cities.

The gold rush, with gold for the picking, lay in the forefront. Vigilante justice ruled the land. (remember how popular the song “Beer for My Horses” was right after 9/11?)

Yes, the Teaparty wants to return us to the days of the idyllic past, the days of the Wild West, of rugged he-men with their 6-shooters, the days before the arrival of the Sheriffs and Marshals, the days where all the women are pretty, doctors made house calls, and wives and kids did everything the man of the house told them to do. The days when you could shoot someone you didn’t take a liking to… or just to prove you were a faster draw then he.

And, what the heck, doesn’t the new movie, “Cowboys and Aliens” prove that a bunch of rugged he-men with Colt 45’s can take on the most sophisticated technologically advanced enemy and kick their ass? Yeah. The Good Old Days. Too bad the Teabaggers don’t realize the Good Old Days were a creation of “liberal” Hollywood!

This is our open thread. What the heck, it’s Hump Day! After the vote on the Debt Ceiling, this day seems quite appropriately named, don’t you think?

Mere coincidence…or…separated at birth?

Hmmm…

First, the ‘official photo’ of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, from his government website…

Second, the Grinch, from Chuck Jones’ classic telling of Dr Seuss’ Christmas story…

And last, but not least, Chucky…

The same feverish glint in the eyes…

The greasy, self-satisfied, impish smirk…

Mere coinkidink???

Or in reality, are these three evil triplets… hideous demon spawn separated at birth?

You make the call!!!

One final observation, before moving on…

Please note, dear reader, how perfectly color coordinated the Speaker is in that photo… the way the orange of his tie is a dead match for the hue of his skin, and how the blue of the polka dots in the tie syncs up with the shirt and his eyes… it’s like he did it on purpose…

The Cut That Isn’t a Cut

As you may have heard, President Barack Obama and the Republicans (who, oddly enough, are not, technically, in power yet), have struck a deal extending the Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy (their official name) for another two years. In return for these tax “cuts”, the Republicans have agreed to extend unemployment benefits for currently unemployed people for another thirteen months along with a few other helpful things for the poor. The stage has been set to make this a campaign issue for 2012. Do you support extending tax “cuts” for millionaires and billionaires who don’t need them? Or do you finally agree that rich people do not use their tax savings to create jobs? But is anybody really going to be paying less in taxes because of this? Not necessarily.

In Washington, DC, and only in Washington, DC, a “cut” is merely a Continue reading

Fox News: Wallace Repeats Talking Points Of A Republican “Sham Front Group”

Chris Wallace repeats the talking points from an Americans for Job Security commercial which follows the segment almost word for word.  Wallace asks Steny Hoyer about choosing the Democratic Caucas by secret ballots but deprive workers of the secret ballot to vote for unions.  The Card Check Bill is what they are talking about.

Watch the video, you will see that the commercial comes on in the middle of this discussion from the Americans for Job Security.  Talk about propaganda, they hit this one out of the park.  Let me give you a little background into this GOP group.

Americans for Job Security (AJS) is a Republican “sham front group that would be better called Corporations Influencing Elections … masquerading as a non-profit to conceal its funders and the scope of its electioneering activities,”the Center for Responsive Politics wrote in April 2007. Incorporated October 1997 in Virginia, AJS was described by the Center as “pro-Republican”, “pro-business”, and “established to directly counter labor’s influence”.

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Sherrod Brown Pushes Back At Bush On Probe Of Ohio Voter Registrations

Ohioans live in a state that it is important that all new voters are welcomed and that all of their votes are accurately counted. We also live in a state that in the last election of 2004, our Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell (R), was eviscerated by the judge in his response over Blackwell’s new directive to suppress votes in Ohio. This is what the judge had to say to Secretary Blackwell, “The exigencies requiring the relief being ordered herein are due to the failure of the defendant to fulfill his duty not only to this Court, as its injunction directed him to do. The Proposed Directive remains…and is every bit as much in violation of HAVA. Blackwell apparently seeks to accomplish the same result in Ohio 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000.”

There is no grey area in what the judge had to say about Secretary Blackwell’s tactics in 2004. Now we move forward to 2008, Boehner (R) initially sent a letter to Mukasey, when he didn’t respond Boehner directly contacted President George W. Bush. He wants Bush to get involved with the 200,000 new voters to make them either verify information or cast provisional ballots, which we all know are oftentimes thrown out.

In response to this possible suppression of new voters, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and five congressional lawmakers, urged Attorney General Michael Mukasey not to intervene in Ohio’s voter registration dispute where Republicans have challenged the integrity of 200,000 new voter registration forms.

“The eyes of the nation are once again on Ohio in the Nov. 4 election in this critical election,” Brown and the congressional Democrats said in a letter sent to Mukasey. “We have confidence in the work that is being done by Ohio’s bipartisan group of election officials and by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. We respectfully request that you refrain from taking any action absent more compelling evidence than partisan political requests.

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Bush Orders DOJ to Probe Ohio Voter Registrations

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First, this is a way for George W. Bush to try to suppress the vote in Ohio.  Secondly, in this state, all voters are required to present valid identification in order to vote.  House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is leading the charge, by sending the letter to Bush to probe the matter.

President George W. Bush late Friday asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate whether hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters in the battleground state of Ohio would have to verify the information on their voter registration forms or be given provisional ballots, an issue the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on last week.

The unprecedented intervention by the White House less than two weeks before the presidential election may result in at least 200,000 voters in Ohio not being able to vote on Election Day if they are forced to provide additional identification when they head to the polls.

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Sunday Talking Heads

Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”

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