House Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting Monday night to strip the independent Office of Congressional Ethics of its powers to speak publicly, report crimes, get anonymous tips, and act independently. If this amendment is passed, the Office will now be under the control of the House Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee is run by members of the House, the body that the Office was intended to investigate. [more inside]
Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation - "Enjoying a majority of unprecedented breadth, Republicans plan a new tide of conservative initiatives targeting the Common Core, abortion, income taxes, labor unions and the EPA." (via) [more inside]
Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
"Used to be that the idea was 'once every two years voters elected their representatives.' And now instead it's 'every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.'"
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority, undermined Obama's mandate, set the terms of the sequestration fight, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade. It's not a new problem. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act, it could get a whole lot worse. And the electoral college may be next. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (previously), R-MI 11, is a very conservative politician and a colorful character, to say the least. [more inside]
Pictures are making the rounds of a younger Ron Paul in the 1975-1979 Houston Astros "rainbow" uniform. Why, you might ask? "An 1889 editorial in the New York Sun advised 'all statesmen of any aspirations for the future to consider that if they have not yet recorded themselves as lovers of our national game [baseball] or some other sporting interest, they should do so immediately.'" This isn't lost on the 21st-century GOP hopefuls, either (you have to see the Rick Santorum video). Since not long after that editorial--1909 actually--the "two parties" in the U.S. Congress have faced off in the Annual Congressional Baseball Game. [more inside]
Tom Davis Gives Up (SLNYT). “Tell them about the important work we’re doing while Rome burns,” he said. A candid accounting of American politics from a member of the GOP disillusioned with both sides of the aisle and an overview of how he became that way.
One nation under God. The "bold conservative" GOP Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia is intent upon removing a vexing comma from that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, which was amended in 1954 when President Eisenhower was moved by a sermon by one Reverend George M. Docherty on the need to defend America from the "militantly atheistic communism that has already enslaved 800 million of the peoples of the earth, and now menaces the rest of the free world."
McHenry and his "roommates" -- GOP Rep Patrick McHenry (NC), co-owner of a DC home with Scott G. Stewart, former chair of the College Republican Nat'l Cttee (and bilker of many senior citizens), received a DC home-ownership reduction improperly. McHenry's actual home in North Carolina was apparently also home to quite a collection of young men: (convicted fraudulent voter) Michael Aaron Lay, Neil Everett Capano, Matthew Allen Hamilton, and (multiple violations, including "death by vehicle") Jason Jent Deans. Also, McHenry's 04 consultant Ralph Gonzales was one of the men involved in a recent FL murder/suicide, and links to Robert Drake, the killer (political work in NC and escort service connections), are still being documented. Stay tuned! [more inside]
"I do not recall" --meet Lurita Doan, Administrator of the GSA (Our mission is to help other agencies better serve the public by meeting – at best value – their needs for products and services, and to simplify citizen access to government information and services.), and hear about the powerpoint presentation from Rove's office all about electing Republicans in 08 and how her agency should help. Her office supplied it to Congress--but it was just a (GOP) "team-building exercise" and "brown-bag lunch". (YouTube) Read up on the Hatch Act too.
The Democrats' Sonny Bono? When George Bush used the 1970s Orleans hit, Still the One, as a campaign song in 2004, John Hall issued Bush a cease and desist order for using his song without permission. A founder of the antinuclear group, Musicians United for Safe Energy (best known for the 1979 concert film, No Nukes), Hall decided to run for Congress in upstate New York, winning upset victories this year in both the Democratic primary and the general election against GOP incumbent, Sue Kelly. Before his Congressional victory, Editor & Publisher posted From Soundchecks to Soundbites, an interesting discussion with Hall about music journalism vs. political journalism.
Majority Leader Boehner’s Confidential Strategy Memo For Thursday’s Iraq Debate On Thursday, the House of Representatives will hold a debate on the Iraq war. Media reports say Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “hopes to match the serious, dignified tone of deliberation that preceded the Gulf war, in 1991.” ThinkProgress has obtained a “Confidential Messaging Memo” from Boehner instructing his caucus to conduct a very different kind of deliberation. Here’s a quick summary:
"I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story..." President Bush really did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here.] And in yesterday's rare press conference, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
[Mugshot filter] The Hammer is tanned, rested, and ready... to kick some partisan-hack a**! But seriously folks, has Tom DeLay ever looked better in his life? Book 'im, Danno -- and don't muss that fabulous hair!
Politics as usual?...if you're in the mafia, maybe. Pressuring [Republican Congressman] Nick Smith to vote for a Medicare reform bill, House GOP leaders threatened to support candidates running against Smith's son for Congress, Nick Smith said Monday. (via TPM)