You are hereCongress
By Thomas Ferguson, The Washington Spectator, via Alternet
Under the new rules for the 2008 election cycle, the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] asked rank-and-file members to contribute $125,000 in dues and to raise an additional $75,000 for the party. Subcommittee chairpersons must contribute $150,000 in dues and raise an additional $100,000. Members who sit on the most powerful committees … must contribute $200,000 and raise an additional $250,000. Subcommittee chairs on power committees and committee chairs of non-power committees must contribute $250,000 and raise $250,000. The five chairs of the power committees must contribute $500,000 and raise an additional $1 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, and Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel must contribute $800,000 and raise $2.5 million. The four Democrats who serve as part of the extended leadership must contribute $450,000 and raise $500,000, and the nine Chief Deputy Whips must contribute $300,000 and raise $500,000. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must contribute a staggering $800,000 and raise an additional $25 million.—Marian Currinder, Money in the House (2008)
October 18, 2011
At 10 a.m. today US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will testify at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the Dirkson Senate Office Building, and may be greeted appropriately by representatives of the 99%.
At 4 p.m. activism workshops are planned in Freedom Plaza.
At 6:30 p.m. there's an Iranian dinner, dancing, and teach-in in Freedom Plaza, thanks to Andy and Marjan Shallal of Busboys and Poets.
News on Iran: http://dontattackiran.org
Me? A 22-year-old mild-mannered peace activist, assaulted the Secretary of Defense? I had simply tried to tell him how I felt about the wars. On the morning of October 13th about 25 activists who are occupying Washington DC, as part of the nationwide occupations, went on a field trip to Congress. We wanted to attend the House Armed Services Committee hearing where Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, and Martin Dempsy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were testifying about "lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade" and "how those lessons might be applied in the future in light of anticipated reductions in defense spending." After all, these hearings are open to the public. And shouldn't we have a say in where our money is being spent?
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to eliminate the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The bill repeals the provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that create, fund, and establish the Super Committee's rules. Further, the bill repeals the enforcement mechanisms that trigger automatic budget cuts in defense and discretionary spending. All other provisions, including the debt ceiling increase, would remain intact.
"I firmly believe that Congress should be focused squarely on this nation's unemployment crisis. Since the Super Committee's single charge is to produce $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction-- which could include cuts to programs that create jobs --it must be promptly dismantled so that regular order can be restored and the federal government can fully dedicate itself to creating jobs and stimulating the economy. If not, unemployment will inevitably rise in all communities, in particular in communities of color."
Republicans refuse to negotiate on tax reform, and they remain immovable to making cuts in federal corporate welfare programs to the oil and gas, defense, and financial services industries. At the same time, however, they continue to propose steep cuts in: low income heating subsidies; community development block grants; Pell Grants; grad student loan subsidies; and health care affordability. Their entire agenda is predicated upon the destruction of the social safety net and the elimination of programs and federal assistance during a time when they are needed the most.
The committee is an illegitimate shell game which poor and middle class Americans will lose. It flies in the face of basic principles of fairness and transparency. How can 12 people decide the fate of millions Americans behind closed doors with little to no input from Congress or the average citizen? The Super Committee's final legislative product will receive an up or down vote in both bodies of Congress; however, Members will not be allowed to offer amendments. Therefore the 523 Members of the House and Senate who do not serve on the Super Committee will be excluded from having the opportunity to represent their constituents' interests in Super Committee's bill. The Tea Party has so rigged the law that regardless of whether the Super Committee fails or succeeds to meet its goal, it is likely that the end result will be draconian spending cuts to critical programs.
"Republicans have completely hijacked the legislative process, and they have seized every opportunity to hold the most perfunctory of congressional business hostage for their radical agenda. The Republicans manufactured "Debt Ceiling Crisis" last July is the latest example of the lengths this relatively small group of lawmakers is willing to go to achieve irresponsible cuts. The formation of the Super Committee is merely another counterproductive tool the Republicans can exploit for the next "showdown" they are certain to stage, while doing nothing to create jobs."
Identifies more than $4 Trillion in Savings to Create Jobs and Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
Drones have a congressional caucus now.
Here are its bipartisan (yay!) members.
Here are some constituencies that do not have their own congressional caucuses:
The Violently Occupied
Here's what you can do about it.
Oct 04, 2011 - Iraqi law should not govern a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier electrocuted in a barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq, a federal judge has ruled.
Lawyers for Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. had asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the ongoing lawsuit in the January 2008 death of Pittsburgh-area Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. But Fischer agreed with lawyers for the soldier's parents who argued that United States law should hold sway because the base was under American control - and could provide for punitive damages and other advantages to the plaintiffs not recognized by Iraqi law.
caskets of dead
soldiers coming home;
cameras out of
They did not count
all they killed;
they did not count
They said the
mission was accomplished.
They said the
mission was through.
Missions made of only lies.
Murder and maim,
Murder and maim
and use our name.
Death for sale by enterprise.
Devil’s bargains stealing souls.
We know. We know. We know.
CODE ORANGE: Amendments missing!
If you see them,
Their mother is worried.
Reward for their safe return.
Supreme Court fire sale:
Half off for
Politicians while they last.
Of the 70 who've signed this letter to the Super Congress there might be two or three I'd trust to fight for it as far as I could throw them, but it is an accomplishment these days to speak any bit of humane truth aloud. So read this letter and go forth and speak likewise.
By Nick Turse, AlterNet
Arizona’s Republican Senator Jon Kyl wasted little time. A member of the bipartisan Congressional “supercommittee” charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, he did his best to forestall even discussion of cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. “When we had our first meeting the chairman asked, ‘Well what do we think about defense spending?’ and I said, ‘I’m off of the committee if we’re gonna talk about further defense spending,’” he told the audience at a recent forum sponsored by several conservative think tanks.
The Senate Minority Whip may be the most outspoken member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction when it comes to the military budget, but the Democrats currently considering whether to cut the deficit via reductions in defense spending or programs like Medicare and Medicaid have received far more money from Pentagon contractors than Kyl or any of their Republican colleagues on the panel, according to an investigation by AlterNet, with assistance from the Brave New Foundation and Salon.com.
Since 2007, Democrats on the supercommittee have received more than $1 million in defense industry donations, while contributions to the Republicans added up to only $321,000. Panel co-chair Senator Patty Murray, for example, has received more defense industry dollars over that period than the combined total of the top four Republican recipients on the super committee. Even so, her haul from the Pentagon’s weapons-makers isn’t the largest by a panel Democrat, a distinction held by her colleague from South Carolina, John Clyburn.
An analysis of official government data paints a disturbing picture of big money, cozy relationships and potential influence that, alongside a concerted lobbying effort by the Pentagon and its powerful defense contractors, makes substantial reductions to the Department of Defense’s budget improbable and steeper cuts to entitlement programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, more likely.
Line in the Sand
A product of the legislation passed to raise the federal debt ceiling this summer, the supercommittee -- six members of the House and six from the Senate -- must come up with a plan to slash federal deficits by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and do so by November 23. If the panel fails or if its proposals are rejected by the full congress, it will trigger automatic spending cuts across the federal government -- a process called sequestration.
At the moment, before the panel makes any decisions, the Department of Defense faces a likely “cut” of around $350 billion in funds over the next decade under a plan proposed by the White House that became part of the debt ceiling agreement. However, Salon contributor Winslow Wheeler and others have pointed out, those cuts are reductions in future spending increases -- not actual budget cuts in any normal sense. And this is where the Pentagon has drawn a line in the sand, likely with an eye toward a slightly larger figure which it will “grudgingly” accept.
As part of the Pentagon’s lobbying effort to cap the cuts, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently warned that anything more than a $400 billion reduction would have a “catastrophic effect” on national security. When Senator John McCain asked General Martin Dempsey, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about a possible $800 billion decrease over 10 years, Dempsey replied, “I haven’t been asked to look at that number. But I have looked and we are looking at $400 [billion]…Based on the difficulty in [achieving] the $400 billion cut, I believe achieving $800 billion would be extraordinarily difficult and very high risk.”
Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called $400 billion in cuts reasonable, but said a decrease of $600 billion, his estimate of the Pentagon’s additional loss in the event of sequestration, would lead to “dangerous cuts across the board -- defense cuts that I believe would do real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our military’s ability to protect the nation.”
At the same time that the Pentagon has been waging this scare-offensive, top defense contractors have launched a lobbying campaign, dubbed “Second to None,” in an attempt to mobilize average Americans to pressure their representatives to reject cuts to defense spending. Using the twin specters of terrorism and the loss of manufacturing jobs, the campaign is far from subtle.
“American leadership in aerospace and defense is being threatened by forces in Congress and the administration," the group's Web site warns. "The security of our troops, our technological future and our economic stability are all at risk. We must preserve jobs across the nation that keep our nation strong. Join us and act now before it is too late."
These efforts may, however, be mere window dressing compared with the industry’s most effective (and least acknowledged) everyday lobbying efforts, which are much less transparent than either the current Pentagon and industry campaigns.
By Dave Lindorff
The first thing that needs to be said to the heartless boneheads who, at the last Republican presidential debate, cheered at the idea of letting a hypothetical 30-year-old cancer victim who hadn’t bought health insurance die, is that this is no mere hypothetical situation. The second thing that needs to be said is that most such people in real life don’t “refuse to get” health insurance. They either cannot afford it (and their employer doesn’t provide it), or they are rejected by insurers because of pre-existing conditions.
What Were the 11 Missing Words? Enter the National Security Archive’s Reader Contest!
Washington, DC, September 16, 2011 - For the first time ever, all three major editions of the Pentagon Papers are being made available simultaneously online. The posting today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org), allows for a unique side-by-side comparison, showing readers exactly what the U.S. government tried to hide for 40 years by means of deletions from the original text.
Wall Street and the big banks owe $1.5 trillion for the bailout (at least). The Super Congress needs to cut $1.5 trillion over ten years. Get the money from Wall Street and cancel the Super Congress. Problem solved.
Last month’s debt ceiling crisis was resolved when Congress and the Obama administration made a deal to cut trillions in federal spending over the next ten years. Congress identified the easy cuts, the low hanging fruit so to speak, for a total of nearly $1.0 trillion. At the same time, Congress and the White House created the “Super Congress” committee of six senators and six representatives charged with cutting another $1.5 trillion. (Image: Lucy White with permission)
The committee has unparalleled power to draft legislation, without the normal legislative processes of debate, deliberation, modification, and amendments. If seven of the twelve committee members vote in favor of the budget cutting legislation by the November 23 deadline (see chart in appendix III), the bill will be submitted to the entire Congress for an up or down vote. The bill will not be subject to any modification or change. Debate will be very limited. (Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Text-pdf)
September 16, 2011 - The 9/11 industry harvested its biggest riches on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the yet-to-be fully documented coordinated attacks on the United States of America which produced the era of awe and shock, bull-dozed all international norms, and initiated two great wars of the twenty-first century.
Video at the Statesman Journal
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, back from his second trip to Afghanistan within 18 months, says he saw or heard nothing to change his mind that U.S. military forces should be headed out even quicker than President Obama announced back in June.
Although he praised U.S. diplomats and troops, the Oregon Democrat said Afghanistan cannot sustain the buildup of military and police forces — and is failing to reduce corruption — that would hasten the end of the U.S. effort there.
"This nation-building mission is not working," he said at a luncheon last week sponsored by the Strategic Economic Development Corp. in Salem. "We need to do a lot more nation-building at home."
Bush White House Resistant to Rebuilding Afghanistan
Rumsfeld's War Aim: "Significantly Change the World's Political Map"
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 358
Posted - September 11, 2011
Committee Member Denies CIA Involvement in Libya War
Washington D.C. (September 9, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today took to the House Floor in opposition to the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2012.
Congressman Kucinich’s remarks follow:
“I rise in strong support of the dedicated public servants of our intelligence community. Their work to ensure national security is to be commended. However, I must oppose the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2012.
We are given figures in the multi multi billions spent on the wars of choice and the so called 'homeland security', but there are huge amounts, in the multi billions, not known or labeled top secret and blacked out in government reports on the rapid growth of intelligence within government and the added private contractors and the costs of that growth. As pointed out in the 'PBS Frontline' report, below, what has it accomplish over all these years, especially as to the main mission after 9/11 and finally getting bin Laden, found through intelligence of a small group and carried out by a small group of 'special forces'.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, like Jeanette Rankin before her, bravely stood alone in Congress against a vote for war, the vote in 2001 for the so-called Authorization to Use Military Force, a Constitutionally dubious passing of the war decision buck to President Bush and his successors. A majority of Americans now believes that the Afghanistan War that followed that authorization never should have been begun and should, in fact, be ended. So, the Congresswoman, along with initial cosponsors Jones, Woolsey, Grijalva, Conyers, and Honda, is offering us a second chance, a chance to get our response to 9-11 right, to restore war powers to the Congress, and to impose the will of the people on that body.
Congresswoman Lee has sent her colleagues this letter, which we should each send them ourselves by email, fax, phone, carrier pigeon, and by nailing it to their cathedral doors:
"Dear Colleague:"Please join me as an original cosponsor of the 'Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act of 2011.' This legislation repeals the joint resolution providing overly-broad authorization to the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those involved in attacking our nation and to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States."This broad authorization of force has had far-reaching implications which shake the very foundations of our great nation and democracy. It has been used to justify warrantless surveillance and wiretapping activities, indefinite detention practices that fly in the face of our constitutional values, extrajudicial targeted-killing operations, and an ever-growing and indefinite pursuit of an ill-defined enemy abroad."We must repeal this authorization for use of military force, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and re-focus our energy and efforts into those actions which truly improve our national security, including developing emerging economies and diplomatic efforts. Please join me as an original cosponsor of this legislation to remove this overly-broad blank check for war anytime, anywhere."For more information or to cosponsor this measure, please contact Teddy Miller in my office at email@example.com or 5.2661."Sincerely,
Member of Congress"
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. LEE of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______
To repeal Public Law 107–40.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force’’.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDING.
Congress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.
SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PUBLIC LAW 107–40.
Effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.
By Dave Lindorff
This faux workers’ holiday on Monday is not a day for celebrating for American workers.
The official unemployment rate, just released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t15.htm), showed unemployment in July to be 9.1%, which is exactly the same as the rate was in June, and which is an increase from the months in the spring. But that’s not even the real picture.
Standard would reduce dangerous US oil dependence, save Americans billions at the pump
By Bruce Gagnon, Organizing Notes
The Boston Globe had a blaring headline on August 15: 'Doomsday' defense cuts directly affect panel members - Large military contractors are in their states.
Put your ear to the railroad tracks and you can hear the train coming. Now that the new 12-member Congressional "Super Committee" has essentially been given the power of God (and the Devil) the military industrial complex, and their appendage called the corporate media, are swinging into action. Their message? We can't cut Pentagon spending because it will hurt an already tight job market.....and we need these troops to keep knocking countries off the "Non-Integrating Gap" list (those countries that refuse to play ball with corporate globalization).
The article begins, "The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors - Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., and Boeing Co. - build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters, and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers."
It's really quite a convenient "coincidence" that the appointed members of the Super Committee just happen to have the "biggest military contractors" in their states. Gee, I wonder when it comes down to more cuts in social spending OR cuts in Pentagon funding, which way will they go?
If Snoopy had ever pointed out to Charlie Brown that Lucy was just going to yank the football away again at the last second, Charlie would have only heard barking.
I hope all the good people chattering away about how cutting Social Security would be political suicide, and therefore won't happen, can hear more than barking in the following.
In the best case scenario, and least likely outcome, the Super Congress will fail to produce a plan or to pass one through the actual Congress. In that case, the backup disaster plan will kick in and deem itself passed automatically. Those who had voted against setting up this deal will claim innocence. The others will claim that their only other choice had been Armageddon.