Showing posts with label U.S. Senate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label U.S. Senate. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ben Sasse explains it all

More than 90,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus. For more than three months, the president of the United States did nothing, despite repeated warnings.

He repeatedly said the virus would disappear -- like a miracle. He repeatedly said it was a Democrat hoax. He repeatedly has touted quack cures.

Americans can't get tested when they need to. Doctors, nurses, first responders and "essential workers" can't get proper protective equipment. The elderly are dying in nursing homes -- alone.

The gravely ill are dying in hospitals, about one every minute. Alone.

America's governors and mayors are trying to manage the gravest threat this country has faced since World War II -- alone, with scant aid from the federal government.

ALL ACROSS our land, high-school and college seniors are graduating -- online. And their future? Up in the air, where the virus spreads.

And spreads.

And spreads.

The president -- many governors, too -- pushes to "reopen the economy." We have no tools, no procedures to intelligently and safely do it. Yet we plow ahead into the unknown, hoping magical thinking will conquer biology.

Into the darkness of the pandemic steps a learned man, a United States senator from Nebraska. He beams into little Fremont from the big Internet to shine a digital light -- to offer wise words and sound guidance from afar to the new graduates of his alma mater.

Ben Sasse speaks. He is unshaven. Well, many of us are these days.

The graduates listen, and so do his state and his country. What shall we do? Why is this happening? Where lies hope?

The learned man answers all.

What shall we do? Not major in psychology.

Why is this happening? Blame China. Maybe Jeremy -- you can't trust a guy named Jeremy.

Where lies hope? Obviously, not in Ben Sasse.

He's such a Jeremy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Dude sounds like he's on pot

National politics is so dysfunctional, disheartening and -- frankly -- bat-shit crazy that I largely have lost the will to comment on such a shitshow.

Sen. John Kennedy
Which brings me to Louisiana's junior U.S. senator, John Kennedy. And the matter of shit.

There is much that could be said about Kennedy. Most would fall under the category of dysfunctional, disheartening and -- frankly -- bat-shit crazy.

But I will say this: I am a Southerner and there is no way in hell I would vote for any Southern politician who can't keep his metaphors straight.

"Urinate or get off the pot?"  Really? Really?


I am old enough to have used the proverbial pot, which my Louisiana family referred to a a "slop jar." And I well know the choice that we all face in life: Shit or get off the pot.

And Kennedy's mangling of a damned fine metaphor is just too damned much to take. Get it straight, podna, or shut the f*** up.

That is all.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it. . . .

If what I just read in the paper instead were a book, you'd have to call it "Profiles in Cowardice."

And our first profile in gutlessness, not to mention political amorality, is Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska. I wish I were shocked.

From today's Omaha World-Herald:
Sen. Deb Fischer on Wednesday rejected fellow Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse’s call for a third-party conservative candidate in the event that Donald Trump captures the GOP nomination.

“I don’t know how any Republican or conservative can support that,” Fischer told The World-Herald. “We’ve seen this story before. We saw it in ’92 with the election of Bill Clinton because of a third party. And I certainly don’t want to see it in 2016 and have the election of another Clinton because of a third party.” 
Regardless of the nominee, Fischer said a third-party bid represents a “really poor strategy” that would only ensure a victory for Hillary Clinton. As president, Clinton probably would have an immediate opportunity to make one appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court and most likely more down the road.

“I will support the Republican nominee,” Fischer said. “This election is a big one. There is way too much at stake to hand it to Hillary Clinton — and the strategy of a third party, I believe, would do just that.”

Fischer wasn’t the only Republican taking a hard pass on Sasse’s third-party proposal.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, told The World-Herald that she’s sticking by her plan to support the GOP nominee, whoever that is.

I DON'T AGREE with Ben Sasse on many things, but he has demonstrated here that at least he's a man of principle . . . and character. On the other hand, Deb, what you're telling Republicans is "Vote for the fascist; it's important."

Let me put it this way: If you're a Republican who thinks it's important to vote for an amoral, fascist vulgarian who draws his political energy from the darkest recesses of the American soul, you are no better than Catholic bishops and laymen who sacrificed the innocence of children as they turned a blind eye to the predators in their midst and covered up unspeakable sins "for the good of the Church." Or party, as the case may be.

They were, and are, pond scum. And you, madam, are a moral cipher. You are engaging in mindless political tribalism. You seek to get out in front of the mob in the hope it won't then come for you.

But mobs aren't easily satisfied. The mob -- or the strongman -- will come for you soon enough. And you won't even have the small consolation of a holy death.

POLITICIANS like you, Deb Fischer, are demonstrating to us why the Republican Party -- the party of Lincoln that's been disgracing the Great Emancipator for a long time now -- deserves that favorite punishment of GOP partisans everywhere . . . the death penalty.

I just regret like hell that it's Donald Trump who gets to be the executioner.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

From the mouths of babes

Hi, I'm Ben Sasse, and I want to destroy shit. Here, I'll let my little girls Alex and Corrie tell you about how badly I want to destroy shit.

I'm a Republican. That's what we do.

Because we despise shit. Especially shit with Obama's name on it. 


That's the sound of me destroying Obamacare. Because we have to destroy this village to save it from Obama. I despise saying Obama. Even if tens of millions of people have No Care after we destroy Obamacare, at least No Care sounds better than Obamacare.

Exclusive video: State GOP strategy meeting

I DESPISE that shit. That Obama shit.

And since I understand that you despise that shit and want to destroy that shit, I despise that shit worser. And I'm here to let my sweet little girls tell you all about the shit I despise and will destroy for you . . . because that's how I roll.

That pinkobama shit's gonna get blowed up. Blowed up good.

Remember . . . the family -- no doubt before a hearty breakfast of human entrails and gunpowder --
that prays for the opposing candidates (to be destroyed) stays together.

On the Group W bench. Next to Sarah Palin.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Short attention-span newspapering

As Flounder said as the Deltas wreaked havoc on Faber College's homecoming parade . . . "Oh boy, is this great!"

The Omaha World-Herald has endorsed a gubernatorial candidate whose primary national exposure heretofore -- during a 2011 foray into a U.S. Senate race -- has been for comparing welfare recipients to raccoons. Swallow your coffee and let it percolate in your head for a second, then know you're a lot smarter than the newspaper's editorial board -- or that you actually give a damn.

Don't forget to swallow that coffee first.

Sayeth the World-Herald:
The State Capitol is in for big changes next year.

Nebraska will have a new governor for the first time in 10 years. At least one-third of the Legislature, including its speaker, will be replaced by newcomers. The state auditor, government's financial watchdog, also will be new to the job.

This will be no place for on-the-job training. The state's next chief executive should be someone with solid state government experience.

This big job is being sought by six Republicans and one Democrat. In the crowded and qualified GOP field, candidates voice similar positions on many issues — taxes, government efficiency, boosting the state's economy and creating jobs.

Jon Bruning's experience, management skills and demonstrated leadership in government make him the strongest choice for the GOP nomination to face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in the fall.

State government encompasses dozens of agencies with responsibilities ranging from agriculture and prisons to Medicaid and highways. It spends about $8.1 billion annually and employs 18,000. Leading this is not an abstract political exercise.

The next governor must chart a course for those agencies, mind the budget and work with legislators on tax policy, public safety and the “problem child” Department of Health and Human Services. The next Legislature will deal with several issues — prison crowding, the “good time” law and water — in which Bruning has particular expertise.
WILL BRUNING also be well positioned to tackle Nebraska's "raccoon problem"? Inquiring readers want to know.

Really, I don't know what's worse when considering this World-Herald endorsement -- a newspaper that can't remember . . . or one that just doesn't give a damn.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'From Hell's heart, I stab at thee!'

It would appear that the inmates who run Congress, that magical asylum where spite meets stupidity, are at it again.

Thus, we see on
MSNBC that we're again facing the prospect of a government shutdown -- just in time for Christmas. Or, as I was telling my wife earlier today, "The Democrats and the Republicans are going to fight to our death."
The holiday spirit seems nowhere near the Capitol Hill this Wednesday evening, with Democrats and Republicans far apart on a deal to fund the government, and extend an expiring payroll tax cut and lapsed unemployment benefits.

Lawmakers were no closer to a deal by the end of the day following a meeting between President Obama and Senate Democratic Leaders at the White House to discuss their strategy going forward. And there was no comment after an early evening meeting between House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol.

Separately, Boehner huddled with his members for more than two hours to plot their options. House Republicans are awaiting action in the Senate on the payroll tax cut bill they passed last night. According to GOP aides, House Republicans weighed whether to move ahead without Democrats on their own, different bill to fund the government after it runs out of money on Friday.

Boehner asserted that the White House and Senate Democrats had made an agreement to fund the government until Democrats reneged.

The White House had decided to link the payroll tax cut to the extension of government funding so as to maintain leverage over Republicans, who could theoretically adjourn the House, and force the Senate, along with the Obama administration, to accept or reject the House-passed legislation.

"It's pretty clear to all of us that President Obama and Senator Reid want to threaten a government shutdown so that they can get leverage on a jobs bill," Boehner told reporters early this evening, accusing Democrats of playing politics on the issue.
ALL DAY, I've been thinking of that original Star Trek episode where these two aliens -- mirror images of one another -- from the same war-torn planet carried on a personal, and mutual, vendetta that mirrored the fatal conflict on their home world.

Back in the mid-1960s, this was a science-fiction allegory to earthly racism and hatred of the Other. Now, to me at least, it looks like a nice summation of the political fix we Americans are in.

We hate us . . . we really hate us.

All the Republicans and all the Democrats, and all the tea partiers and all the "progressive" true believers are hell-bent on fighting to the political death. Hell, maybe the literal one, too.

Unfortunately, it will be our death in a faltering empire lurching from conflict to disaster to catastrophe to ruin.
"To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"
THAT'S from Star Trek, too -- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Khan was quoting from Moby Dick. Somehow, it seems appropriate.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weaponizing the law for fun and profit

Do you want to know what can happen when America has the best government Big Money can buy (and you can't)?

This. And it's about to happen.

Of course, not being communist China, the U.S. government will not throw a monkey wrench into the Internet because it does not like the politics of any particular website. That would be illiberal.

But if some website might be the slightest threat to big contributors making maximum money, well, that's another thing. That's capitalism, and if you say some things are more important than money . . .
we know where you live.

WHAT AM I talking about? This, as explained in Forbes by Larry Downes:
When Congress introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th, its sponsors hardly expected a tidal wave of opposition from Silicon Valley. After all, SOPA was billed as a corrected version of the Senate’s Protect IP Act, passed out of committee earlier this year.

SOPA and Protect IP are the latest proposals for combating so-called “rogue” websites–criminal enterprises operating outside the U.S. that traffic in counterfeit goods and unlicensed entertainment. Many pretend to be legitimate outlets for movies, music, prescription drugs, and luxury goods, often selling dangerous or defective products to U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, SOPA, also known colorfully as the E-PARASITE Act, was no corrective. SOPA is a sweeping new law, effecting a radical change to how governments and private parties could police Internet content and business innovation in the name of protecting copyrights and trademarks.
While SOPA did correct a few technical errors in Protect IP, it also introduced new definitions, new standards of liability for third parties, a deeply flawed system of private enforcement, and a provision that makes a felony of posting YouTube videos with copyrighted music—even playing in the background. The House version was nearly twice as long as its Senate counterpart.


No one but the criminals, of course, would defend the brazen rip-off of copyright and trademark holders. Unfortunately, legislation touted as targeting only the “worst of the worst” has morphed into something far broader. If passed in their current forms, Protect IP and even more so SOPA would effect a dramatic redesign of the Internet, making it a much smaller and decidedly less innovative place for entrepreneurs and consumers. Neither bill should become law.

For example, SOPA would allow the U.S. government to condemn “foreign infringing sites” by forcing Internet service providers to misdirect requests from consumers attempting to access them. Leading Internet engineers rightly note this provision won’t actually stop users from finding infringing content. It will, however, wreak havoc on crucial international efforts to make the global domain name system more secure, as former National Security Agency general counsel Stewart Baker recently pointed out.

But that’s nothing compared to the most unsettling provision of both bills, which creates a new private right of action for rightsholders to force ad networks and payment processors to shut down websites “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.” While that sounds simple enough, SOPA’s version of this “market based mechanism” is over 30 pages long. Read carefully, it gives copyright and trademark owners sweeping new powers to cut off websites—foreign and domestic—whose business models they dislike.

For example, based on nothing more than a good faith belief that infringement is taking place on even “a portion of” a website and a failure by the operator to confirm “a high probability of the use of the site” to commit infringement, SOPA allows private parties can order payment processors and ad networks to cut all ties to the site simply by sending a letter.
WHAT WE HAVE today is a nation of perpetual conflict where brute force is the only possible resolution when disputes arise -- be it in the ghetto where gangbangers settle beefs with bullets, on American streets and college campuses where police shut down peaceful protests with billy clubs and pepper spray . . . or in Congress where moneyed interests pay lawmakers to weaponize the U.S. Code on their behalf.

What could go wrong?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

It takes a beetle

Listen to Jon Bruning when he tells stories about highways and burrowing beetles and welfare raccoons; the Nebraska attorney general knows his beetles.

After all, he is one. For a long time now, Nebraskans who have better things to do than drool at demagogues' red meat at "political meetings" have pegged Bruning as the sort of sniveling little opportunist who'll do just about anything to get elected to something. This is much like the sort of beetle we used to call "tumble turds" when I was a kid in Louisiana.

The similarities between Bruning and a tumble turd -- otherwise known as a dung beetle -- are striking. The man deals in excrement; excrement is his life's blood. In cattle country, we know what kind of excrement a "Bruning beetle" is most likely to deal in.

SO WE HAVE the state AG, who wants to be a U.S. senator, carefully crafting all his precious bulls*** into a neat little ball, which he then rolls around from town to town for "tea party patriots" to eat up.

Here's an example from the
TPM website:
He describes a requirement that workers at a construction project gather up endangered beetles by luring them into a bucket with a dead rat in order to release them elsewhere. But the plan is thwarted when hungry raccoons then eat them straight out of the rat-infested bucket. Which, according to Bruning, is a perfect image to illustrate how welfare recipients receive their benefits.

"The raccoons figured out the beetles are in the bucket," Bruning said. "And it's like grapes in a jar. The raccoons -- they're not stupid, they're gonna do the easy way if we make it easy for them. Just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don't send them to work, they're gonna take the easy route."
BEING AN exceptional tumble turd, though, Bruning has figured out how to make his precious wad of poo self-replenishing. It's kind of like hitting it big on Wall Street -- simple in theory but requiring some skill to practice.

What the attorney general
(and I just threw up in my mouth a little typing "attorney general") does is invest a little bit of his ball of bulls*** in hopes that Bubba and Vi will deposit their nest eggs in his wad. Soon enough, the nest eggs mature and go out to collect more material for the effort.

This is called the "s***ball effect," which is like the "snowball effect," except browner and smellier, and Bruning is just the latest in a long line of demagogues who can spin a little bulls*** into a whole lot of ugly. Welfare recipients . . . raccoons . . . 'coons . . . get it? Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Would that trapping and disposing of such political "tumble turds" were as easy as plopping a cow pie in the bottom of a bucket and waiting for suppertime.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mr. Sanders gives it to Washington

Can't add anything to this, except perhaps for "Amen!"

Oh, all right.
I can add this one thing: It's a damned sad day in this sad land when it takes a self-proclaimed democratic socialist to do something seemingly as simple as go onto the floor of the U.S. Senate and tell the God's honest truth.

America's tea-party "patriots," maybe what this country needs is more socialism, not less. Especially if the alternative is plutocracy -- a veritable banana republic . . . with nukes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Politics today

Don't listen to them lib'ruls in the lamestream media -- it wasn't as bad as it looks.

Oh, OK.

The volunteer with Rand Paul's Republican U.S. Senate campaign who stepped on the head of a liberal activist and pinned her face to the concrete said Tuesday the scuffle was not as bad as it looked on video and blamed police for not intervening.

"I'm sorry that it came to that, and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand's safety," Tim Profitt told The Associated Press.

A judge will decide whether Profitt should face criminal charges.
YOU HEARD the Rand Paul militia. Everybody move along; nothing to see here.

By January, we'll probably witness the caning of lawmakers on the Senate floor. Again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We hate us! We really hate us!

Well, this is discouraging.

Not surprising, not by a long shot, but discouraging nevertheless.

Last night, this account of the Delaware U.S. Senate debate went up on
The New York Times website. It describes the knives-and-bludgeons gutter fight between tea-party pin-up Christine O'Donnell and her Democratic foe, Chris Coons, where we see the candidates defined, on one hand, as the Red Menace and, on the other, as a papist puppet ready to impose the will of the Vatican upon an oppressed American public.

I can't wait for Nov. 2, can you? From The Caucus blog on the Times' site:
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican Delaware Senate candidate, and her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, hurled personal attacks at each other in a nationally televised debate Wednesday night.

A feisty, aggressive Ms. O’Donnell called Mr. Coons a Marxist whose beliefs came from a socialist professor and said he would “rubber stamp” the policies of the Democrats in Washington. Mr. Coons raised questions about whether Ms. O’Donnell’s faith would drive her positions on social issues like abortion, prayer and evolution.

Pressed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Ms. O’Donnell refused to say whether she believed evolution was a myth, saying that “what I believe is irrelevant.” As she did throughout the first half of the debate, Ms. O’Donnell quickly tried to return the focus to Mr. Coons, saying, “I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist belief.”
THE DESPAIRING thing about this account isn't that politicians play fast and loose with facts. The despairing thing about this account is that it's, I believe, a pretty fair illustration of exactly how divided, embittered, hateful and raring for a fight we are in America.

Back in September, I thought Jimmy Carter probably was engaging in some slight hyperbole when he said the country is Civil War polarized.

"This country has become so polarized that it's almost astonishing," he told NBC anchorman Brian Williams. "Not only with the red and blue states, President Obama suffers from the most polarized situation in Washington that we have ever seen -– even maybe than the time of Abraham Lincoln and the initiation of the war between the states."

THE MORE I think about it, though, the less I think the former president was engaging in hyperbole.

We've gone through bad times in this nation since 1865. We've fought over communism and Vietnam and civil rights. We muddled through 1968. The constitution survived Watergate.

Back then, however, we had a center -- both socially and politically. We had some degree of bipartisanship, a working across party lines, in the nation's capital.

NOW, we have two extremes. The center did not hold, and there's no Abraham Lincoln in sight.

The economy is as bad as it has been since World War II, people are hurting, people are scared, we're post-9/11, we're at war, we're all going broke, and the sexual revolution has laid waste to the American family. And on top of all that, we're at loggerheads over mutually exclusive notions of "how shall we live, then."

And we hate one another. We really, really hate one another.

Hang on. It's going to get ugly before whatever happens, happens.

All we need is a spark. God only knows what that will be.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Don't bite the hand that . . . strangles you?

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"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. . . .

"And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be somebody's fault instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen."

Accidents will happen? Oops.

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"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. . . .

"And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be somebody's fault instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen."

Friday, May 21, 2010

A-hole ideologue of the universe

"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'" Rand [Paul] said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." ''I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."

Paul appeared two days after a landslide primary victory over the Republican establishment's candidate, Trey Grayson. He had spent most of the time since his win laboring to explain remarks suggesting businesses be allowed to deny service to blacks without fear of federal interference. On Friday said he wouldn't seek to repeal civil rights legislation.

On the oil spill, Paul, a libertarian and tea party darling, said he had heard nothing from BP indicating it wouldn't pay for the spill that threatens devastating environmental damage along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

"And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be somebody's fault instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen," Paul said.

The senate candidate referred to a Kentucky coal mine accident that killed two men, saying he had met with the families and he admired the coal miners' courage.

"We had a mining accident that was very tragic. ... Then we come in and it's always someone's fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen," he said.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

When nuts vote as a bloc. . . .

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Can we agree that basing an entire political "movement" on the mere fact that you're pissed is a supremely bad idea, and is likely to end with voters doing supremely stupid things?

Exhibit A is what happened Tuesday, when tea-party Republican voters sent Ron Paul's baby libertarian boy to the general election for U.S. Senate. As we all know, Satan is a libertarian, and it was probably him who told Rand Paul
(Nut-Ky.) that there's a problem with the Civil Rights Act.

Thus, we have the spectacle of Paul telling Rachel Maddow that he hates racism, that segregation is wrong, but the federal government still has no business telling private businesses they cannot refuse, for example, to serve African-Americans.

THE THING IS, while Bubba's Lunch Counter is indeed a "private business," so is Exxon.

And if Exxon doesn't have to serve you, Exxon doesn't have to hire you. either. Neither does anybody except for -- at least one presumes in the weird, weird world of Rand Paul -- government agencies.

RAND PAUL can wrap himself in the First Amendment all he wants -- just as he can lament the all-powerful state's assault on liberty all he wants -- but despite all his protestations about how much he hates discrimination and racism, he's still in bed with people like those above.

See, the red necks and dark hearts of Poolesville, Md., in 1956 really wouldn't have cared much whether Rand Paul personally was a "nigger lover," just so long as he preserved their right to discriminate against them with impunity. Libertarian Satan would have been so proud.

When the subject is abortion, we know when a politician is trying to have it both ways -- he starts waxing eloquent about how he's personally opposed to abortion, but. . . . This is called, if one is feeling charitable, wanting to feel right without actually having to do right.

On his campaign website, Paul says he's "100% pro life." Or would that be 100-percent pro-life, except when a woman goes to a private abortion clinic, because God forbid the state infringe on the rights of private businesses?

After all, "we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized. . . ."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Are you $#!++!@& me?

Andrew Breitbart and the gang at are upset that Senate Democrats now threaten to do what the Dems were upset about the Republicans trying to do in 2005.

Like, shouldn't he be saying "Hey! They finally came around to our way of thinking"?

No, he'd only be happy if the Democrats were upset that the Republicans had regained power and were threatening to do what they were upset about the Dems threatening to do what they were upset about the GOP threatening to do in 2005.

I think. My brain hurts now.

Nevertheless, I think it's eminently safe to say that hypocrisy is what makes our nation's capital go 'round. And that everybody comes out looking like what Tony Kornheiser might have thought Hannah Storm resembled the other day.

And, for the record, I think Hannah can wear whatever in the world she wants. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nelson's career: Another senseless death

This is a picture of what must be the most pissed-off man in America -- Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Don't let the smile fool you.

If you look closely, the senator kind of looks like he's gritting his teeth. That would be more like it for a man who just realized tonight -- with the election of a Republican to Massachusetts' "Kennedy seat" in the Senate -- that he pissed away his political career over health-care reform, and all he got was . . . well, nothing.

He thought he was getting the best deal he could get for Nebraska on the bill's proposed unfunded Medicaid mandates, but ended up getting roasted for the "Cornhusker kickback."

He thought he was getting the best deal he could for pro-lifers in an extremely hostile Senate, but his best deal turned out to be not good enough. Now all the state's pro-life activists hate his guts.

He thought he was looking out for all his boyz in the insurance industry by drawing a line in the sand over the "public option," but all the lobbyists' horses and all the lobbyists' men probably can't put
Nelson's approval rating back together again.

Come on, the man can't even go out for a pizza now.

AND NELSON THOUGHT that, even if everything else went south, he at least could say his was the vote that gave the country health-care reform. Oops.

According to The New York Times,
that's probably toast, too:
Scott Brown’s decisive Senate victory in Massachusetts imperiled the fate of the Democratic health care overhaul as House Democrats indicated they would not quickly approve a Senate-passed health care measure and send it to President Obama.

After a meeting of House Democratic leaders Tuesday night even as Mr. Brown’s victory was being declared, top lawmakers said they were weighing their options. But the prospect of passing the health care overhaul by pushing the Senate plan through the House appeared to significantly diminish.

Noting that the election in Massachusetts turned on a variety of different factors such as the economy and local issues, Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a top party campaign strategist, acknowledged that resistance to the emerging health legislation also factored in the outcome of the Massachusetts race.

“Health care was also part of the debate and the people of Massachusetts were right to be upset about provisions in the Senate bill,” Mr. Van Hollen said, referring to “special deals” included in the bill to win the votes of Democratic senators and round up 60 votes.

The comment was a clear indication that Democrats were recalibrating their approach on health care, leaving them a diminishing and politically difficult set of choices.

Pushing the Senate plan through the House was favored by some lawmakers and strategists as a way to quickly deliver the president a bill on a signature domestic achievement, since it would require just one final House vote. Remaining problems could be worked out with a subsequent piece of legislation.

But many House Democrats expressed deep reservations about the Senate bill. Those complaints, combined with the message sent by the Massachusetts electorate, apparently were sufficient to leave Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants reluctant by Tuesday night about moving in that direction.
WHO KNOWS? Maybe the Nebraska senator can pull it all back together before the 2012 election. Then again, maybe not.

In that case, Ben Nelson just would have to settle for being a cautionary tale. As in, "Never, never ever
dive on a political hand grenade to save a bill you don't really believe in in the first place."

Especially after a long, tortuous process during which you helped to take a pretty decent House bill and turn it into something that everybody could hate.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The military-industrial complexities of rape

Nebraska's junior U.S. senator, Mike Johanns, is all about lowering the boom on anti-poverty organizations that advise faux pimps and hos how to game the system.

But when it comes to stopping defense contractors from legally abusing female employees who have been raped by co-workers and then held against their will -- by their employer, by the way -- to keep them from yelling "rape" . . . not so much. As a matter of fact, Johanns is dead-set against requiring Pentagon contractors not to deny victims of sexual assault their day in court through terms of an employment contract.

HERE'S the amendment offered by Sen. Al Franken, which passed 68-30 Tuesday:
Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.
OBVIOUSLY, SIMPLE JUSTICE must be one of those radical, pinko-commie notions the Democrats are trying to ram down the throats of God-fearing patriotic Americans. I mean, get a load of this 2007 report from ABC News on the case that inspired Franken's amendment:
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave. Jones described the container as sparely furnished with a bed, table and lamp.

"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."

Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.

According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally."

Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones' former employer doesn't want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.
I'M NO constitutional scholar, but I'm fairly confident that document doesn't begin "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, do ordain and establish the right of Employers to contractually deny their Employees any of the Rights enumerated herein, especially when Employees have suffered an Offense against their Virtue."

Of course, I am not patriotic and smart like Republican senators such as Mike Johanns. I am a mere pinko, commie-lib like Al Franken, and thus cannot grasp how it is far worse to be ACORN and give legally dubious advice to pretend pimps and hos than it is to be Halliburton and cover up an actual gang rape.

And when you're unable to get your mind around something as simple as that, trying to figure out how anybody could be against the Franken amendment is doubly discombobulating.

I suppose we must just have faith that there was nothing at all remotely creepy about the Nebraska senator being on the same side of this issue as the esteemed john from Louisiana, David Vitter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The last Kennedy boy

Teddy Kennedy is dead.

That's an odd thing for a Baby Boomer like me to type. I was born in 1961, which means I have no memory whatsoever of a time when Edward M. Kennedy, elected in 1962, was not a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate who lost two of his brothers to assassins' bullets, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy.

His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all."
I'VE NEVER BEEN a total fan of the man, to tell the truth. When I was three decades younger, I would have agreed with the senator on social issues like abortion and disagreed vehemently with his liberal prescriptions for issues such as health care.

Three decades later, Kennedy was the same and I was changed. In recent years, I found myself in agreement with his liberal political instincts and quite opposed to his libertarian social ones.

Nevertheless, he had my respect for his political longevity, as well as for his passion for public service.

But politics -- and agreements or disagreements -- don't much matter now, do they?

WHAT MATTERS NOW is that Edward Kennedy was -- is -- a child of God. He is loved by God. He loved his family and friends. They loved him, and his passing diminishes us all.

That's what matters. God bless the senator and his family, and may God rest his soul.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Louisiana proves self-government overrated

What does the effort in Louisiana to draft a porn star to run for U.S. Senate against David Vitter -- admitted adulterer (and unindicted "john") -- remind you of?

FOR ME, this (note off-color language):

that Animal House was just a funny, whacked-out movie.
Shows what they know.

"No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."

"We're just the guys to do it."

Animal House, 1978
Draft Stormy, 2009