Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Personal threats a job perk for Congress

Growing hazard for members of Congress: Threats — both real and perceived. Pennies tinged in red, purported to be in blood, arrive at the office of outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with a message that says “no more blood for war.” The red turned out to be paint but the message is clear. FBI documents obtained by Politico under the Freedom of Information Act show the agency has investigted 236 threats against members of Congress over te last decade and while some, like the red-tinged Pelosi pennies, are more nuisance than threat, many others are serious threats. “It’s interesting that
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No more Kennedys in Congress? Can the nation survive?

The Kennedys have held congressional seats, the presidency and the public’s imagination for more than 60 years. That era ends when Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island vacates his U.S. House seat next month, leaving a city council post in California as Camelot’s sole remaining political holding. The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy said he has no qualms about walking away from politics. His departure marks the first time in 63 years there won’t be a Kennedy serving in elected office in Washington. “In my family, the legacy was always public service, and that didn’t necessarily mean public
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Feds cover up misbehavior by American mercenaries

Mercenaries behaving badly not only cause public relations problems, the boorhish behavior and mistakes can cost lives. Consider what happened on Sept. 9, 2005, when five security guards from private contractor DynCorp were supposed to be on duty protecting Afghan President Hamid Karzai but — instead — returned to their compound drunk and with a whore in tow. A few days later, the same guards got tanked again in the VIP lounge of the Kabul airport while waiting for a flight to Thailand. They had been intoxicated, loud and obnoxious,” an internal company report of the incident said, adding that
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Did lame duck session breathe new life into a lackluster Congress?

In the middle of a House debate, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky handed the woman in charge of the rules a paper bag. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., peered inside, saw the bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon and laughed. Indeed, a shot of something strong might help make sense of a prolific Congress that seemed to break the rules of political physics. Democrats were punished by voters for a long list of accomplishments, then rallied with a post-election session that was anything but lame. Among the lessons of 2010: Being the opposite of a “do-nothing Congress” can produce just as
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Memo to Obama: Enjoy the success while it lasts

Buoyant in political victory, President Barack Obama on Wednesday wrapped up a long, rough year in Washington by rejoicing in a rare, bipartisan “season of progress” over tax cuts, national security and civil justice. Halfway through his term, he served notice to his skeptics: “I am persistent.” The president who strode on stage for a news conference cut a remarkably different figure than the Obama who, just seven weeks ago, held a similar event in which he somberly admitted he had taken a “shellacking” in the midterm elections and needed to re-evaluate. This time, Obama was about to jet off
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How did a lame duck Congress become the Energizer Bunny?

This is the story of a “lame duck” Congress that wasn’t. Shaken by a historic election in which angry voters canceled Democratic control of the House, lawmakers of both parties and President Barack Obama tried something new: They consulted each other. They cooperated. And finally, they compromised. From tax cuts to a nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of the ban on openly serving gay soldiers, Congress and the Obama White House closed up their respective shops and headed out for the holidays with an uncommonly full bag of accomplishments. Bipartisanship was one of them. “That progress is … a
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Obama signs end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

President Barack Obama signed a new law Wednesday that will allow gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America‘s military. And he urged those kicked out under the old law to re-enlist. Framing the issue as a matter of civil rights long denied, Obama said that “we are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot … a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal.” Repealing the 17-year-old policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a ceremony that was alternately emotional and rousing, the president said “this law I’m about
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Senate gives Obama victory on Start treaty

The Senate on Wednesday ratified an arms control treaty with Russia that reins in the nuclear weapons that could plunge the world into doomsday, giving President Barack Obama a major foreign policy win in Congress’ waning hours. Thirteen Republicans broke with their top two leaders and joined 56 Democrats and two independents in providing the necessary two-thirds vote to approve the treaty. The vote was 71-26, with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., showing up just two days after cancer surgery. Obama praised the strong bipartisan vote for a treaty he described as the most significant arms control pact in nearly two
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Congress finally passes aid program for first responders

Congress has passed a $4.2 billion aid package for survivors of the September 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and responders who develop illnesses because of breathing dust from the ruins. The House passed the bill on a 206-60 vote Wednesday about two hours after the Senate cleared it. President Barack Obama has said he is eager to sign it. The package provides money to monitor rescue and cleanup workers and treat illnesses related to Ground Zero. It also reopens a victims’ compensation fund for another five years to cover wage and other economic losses of sickened workers
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Arlen Specter’s farewell: A stinging rebuke to the system

Departing Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter on Tuesday said conservative Republicans who backed tea party challengers against establishment candidates in the recent elections engaged in political cannibalism. In his final floor speech, Specter complained there’s scant room for centrists like himself in a polarized Senate where civility is in short supply. “In some quarters, compromise has become a dirty word,” said Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, who lost his re-election bid after three decades in the Senate. Specter complained that some GOP senators had helped tea party challengers beat incumbent Republicans like Utah Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Mike Castle in his Delaware
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