Provide For The Common Defense? Hardly.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It seems the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill is worse than a political football. It’s being treated like a grenade. Literally.
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on April 29, by a handsome 249-175 margin, was introduced into the Senate by none other than Ted Kennedy, and co-sponsored by 43 other Senators on April 28. They’ve had two full months to get this bill up and ready and passed. It actually was a White House priority.
Then, nothing. All quiet on the western front, as it were. Then, the DOJ’s DOMA bomb, and the next thing we hear is the Hate Crimes Bill is getting attached to a tourism bill. Gays were justifiably outraged at the symbolism. But a bill is a bill and symbolism is symbolism and we’ll take a win on this however we can get it.
But just hours ago we learned the the U.S. Senate has attached the bill to the Defense Authorization Bill. Sounds, good, right? Well, no. If you follow the news, you’ll know that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – who was also Secretary of Defense under Bush 43 – has been adamantly against appropriating funds for the F-22 Raptor fighter, an outdated program that the DOD and White House say is unnecessary.
Last year, similarly, as The Washington Independent reported,
“But appeasing constituents with ties to the defense industry may have something to do with the F-22 spending increase. The plane is made by Lockheed Martin, as well as Pratt & Whitney, in Connecticut and Georgia. And Connecticut Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) and two congressman from Georgia, Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), were among the group of lawmakers that earmarked the extra F-22 money.”
And there you have it.
The Hate Crimes Bill is attached to The Defense Authorization Bill. The Defense Authorization Bill passed the House today, by a 389-22 vote. It goes to the Senate then to President Obama. President Obama, along with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates do not want to waste money on programs we don’t need. Each Raptor costs approximately $140 million dollars. The House bill includes an additional $1.75 billion for the Raptors.
But here’s the real kicker: President Obama has threatened to veto any bill that comes to his desk with funding for the F-22 Raptors.
So, assuming all goes as planned, our Democratic-controlled Congress will pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill but attach it to the Defense Authorization Bill and President Obama will veto it and go down in history as soft on defense and soft on crime. And soft on gay rights.
The obvious question is, with friends like these…
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‘Hardball? You Bet’: Dems ‘Need to Be Prepared’ After McCarthy Exit Urges Top Political Scholar
The American voters sent 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats to the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, the exact same margin, but flipped, as the 2020 election. But today, with the announcement that ousted, former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not only not running for re-election but is quitting Congress at the end off the year, Republicans have a big majority crisis — because of their now tiny majority.
It’s no longer 222 to 213.
After McCarthy’s exit, and with the recent expulsion of now-former Congressman George Santos (R-NY) Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will have a very slim majority.
“The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos of New York last week,” The New York Times explains. “That leaves almost no wiggle room for Mr. Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.”
“When the House returns in January,” The Washington Post adds, “Republicans can lose only two votes from their ranks to pass any legislation at a time when the chamber faces major decisions on government spending and foreign aid. That dynamic could force Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the post after a tumultuous three weeks following McCarthy’s ouster, to work with Democrats to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as mid-January.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has announced he will retire and exit Congress early next year.
But possibly even before that, Speaker Johnson’s tiny majority could at some point become an opening for Democrats, according to a top political scientist and scholar, Dr. Norman Ornstein.
“Democrats need to be prepared to act swiftly and decisively if the numbers drop below 218– even if only for a day. Quick motion to vacate, [Hakeem] Jeffries as Speaker, immediate agenda,” writes Dr. Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades.”
Ornstein offers more opportunities should Democrats be able to take the majority back soon.
“Reconciliation bill to secure robust spending, eliminate debt limit permanently, taxes on rich to pay for permanent child tax credit.”
He adds, the number of Republican members “would need to get down to 213. But any set of problems– a Covid outbreak, for example– could bring those numbers down, if only for a day or two. Have a plan ready! Hardball? You bet.”
David Rothkopf, the noted foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator, responding to Ornstein’s remarks appeared to urge Republicans to join with Democrats to elect a Democratic Speaker, or even to switch parties:
“This. C’mon you GOPers from purple districts. Trump will have you purged and sent to Siberia. We just need 2 of you. You can be unloved by the GOP or heroes to the rest of America! Make your move now.”
Of course, special elections will be held to replace both Santos (scheduled for February 13, 2024) and McCarthy (likely summer, according to The Post), and at some point Johnson.
But with the extremely large number of members of Congress who have exited or will be, as Ornstein says, Democrats need to be ready.
Comer Threatens ‘Contempt’ Despite Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Quoting Chairman’s Media Appearances
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer is now threatening Hunter Biden with “contempt” of Congress if he refuses to testify behind closed doors. The President’s son has repeatedly offered to testify in public.
Abbe Lowell, the attorney with “close ties inside the Trump White House” who is now representing Hunter Biden, Wednesday morning again reiterated his demand that any testimony before the House Oversight Committee be in a public hearing, and he used Chairman Comer’s own words to make his point.
But Comer, who is moving toward impeaching President Joe Biden despite having offered no actual proof of any impeachable offense, was quick to tell Politico: “He’s been subpoenaed. We expect him to show up. They don’t get to make the rules.”
“I would expect Congress to hold the president’s son in contempt,” Comer said, if Hunter Biden refuses to testify in a closed-door session.
“As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter,” Lowell wrote to Chairman Comer earlier on Wednesday, in a letter published by The Washington Examiner, “Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter.”
Lowell made clear his motivation for a public hearing before cameras.
“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
But Lowell cited Comer’s own words from a few of his numerous media appearances to demonstrate how the Chairman welcomed an open-door public hearing. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted that Lowell, in his letter, “again cites Comer practically daring Hunter to publicly testify.”
Lowell cited Comer’s remarks on October 31 on “The Benny Show.”
“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation now because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose , . . . .”
Also, his September 13 statement on Newsmax.
“Hunter Biden is more than welcome to come in front of the committee . . . he’s invited today. We will drop everything.”
He also cited Comer’s “November 8, 2023, statement in your cover letter addressed to me: ‘Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
(Emphasis included in Lowell’s letter.)
“We look forward to working out the schedule,” Lowell concluded.
Jim Comer Decimated by NBC Reporter in ‘Under Two Minutes’
Republican House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer melted down in an interview with NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles on Tuesday as he once again appeared unable to prove President Joe Biden engaged in money laundering or other illicit acts.
“So sir, there were the two checks,” Nobles told Comer (video below), “the $40,000 check and the $200,000 check that came from the president’s son and into the President’s bank account. There was also subsequent bank records, which were provided through the [Oversight] Committee, that demonstrate that there were also subsequent pieces of information that went from the President to the president’s son.”
Comer repeatedly denied Nobles account.
“That is not true,” Comer claimed.
“So that you’re saying that that information has been made up then?” Nobles tried to confirm. “Where did that information come from? That came from the Committee.”
“I don’t know,” Comer claimed. “We haven’t seen that information.”
“That is Committee information that is collected from the bank records that your committee has obtained,” Nobles, in something of a “Perry Mason” moment, informed Chairman Comer.
“Just show the check,” Comer insisted.
“Do you have a canceled check for every wire transfer that’s ever come into your account?” Nobles asked.
“Yes,” Comer declared.
“And that’s what has been shown, there is bank records that demonstrate an exact same amount of money,” Nobles explained, as Comer talked over him.
“Are you saying, okay, sir, are you saying those bank records do not exist?” Nobles pressed, “That show the money leaving the President’s account and into his son’s?”
“They were money laundering. You see wires going all over the –” Comer charged.
“Sir, answer this specific question: Is there a bank record that demonstrates the exact amount of money that came from the President’s account into his son’s account that matches the checks that then went back to him? Does that exist? Yes or no?”
“No, no!” Comer blared. “There’s money coming from a law firm.”
“That doesn’t exist? That doesn’t exist, sir?” Nobles asked.
“It does not exist. It’s coming from a law firm. Who put who put the money in the law firm? How do you know the money came from Joe Biden? It could have come from one of Hunter shell companies. You have no idea,” Comer replied.
“Okay. So you are saying that that money that that money exists?” Nobles, making his case, concluded. “That transfer does exist there in the bank records that you and your committee –”
“No!” Comer then declared. “You don’t know what that transfer is.”
Tim Mulvey, the former communications director for the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack responded to the clip, writing: “In my experience, when a chairman goes on tv and can’t answer even the most basic questions about ‘blockbuster’ evidence without utterly unraveling, it might not be the strongest case.”
“In under two minutes,” wrote Adam Cohen of Lawyers for Good Government, “James Comer goes from checks that confirm harmless transactions between Joe and Hunter Biden ‘do not exist’ To ‘they exist, but we claim they might be suspicious.'”
White House spokesman Ian Sams posted the clip on social media late Tuesday night, with a snarky comment.
Watch the video below or at this link.
— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) December 6, 2023
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