Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

A humble soldier adjusts to fame

It was years in the making, so Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta had time to talk with his wife about the “what if” question. He’d been recommended for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration. If chosen, his name would be in headlines. His face in the spotlight. He’d be a celebrity. And again and again, he’d have to tell strangers the harrowing story of a deadly ambush in Afghanistan. “He was worried,” says Giunta’s wife, Jenny. “He didn’t know how he was going able to talk to people about it. He couldn’t even talk to me. He didn’t
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The GOP agenda: Lots of turmoil, little hope for progress

The Republican agenda for the new Congress that convenes Wednesday may have a greater impact on the 2012 elections than on the lives of Americans in the next two years. Republicans promise to cut spending, roll back President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and prevent unelected bureaucrats from expanding the government’s role in society through regulations that tell people what they must or can’t do. Getting this agenda through the House may be easier than in the Senate, given the GOP‘s 241-194 majority in the House. Getting the Senate to act will be a challenge. Democrats still hold an edge
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The upcoming spending fight at the not-so-OK corral

Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health. Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner‘s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills. His first big challenge will come in February,
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Murkowski finally certified winner in Alaska

The state of Alaska certified Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski’s victory over Tea Party favorite Joe Miller on Thursday, nearly three months after the incumbent won the race with an unconventional write-in campaign. The certification document was signed in the state capitol in Juneau by Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, a spokeswoman for Parnell said. “It’s been certified. The governor signed the certificate and the lieutenant governor notarized it,” Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. “From there it gets on a plane tonight with Gail.” Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai will carry it personally to the Secretary of
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Judge clears way for Murkowski win in Alaska

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by conservative Tea Party favorite Joe Miller that challenged his loss in Alaska’s election for a Senate seat, clearing the way for state officials to certify Lisa Murkowski’s historic write-in victory. District Judge Ralph Beistline lifted an injunction he imposed last month that delayed certification. “The injunction is lifted and the Division of Elections may certify the election results immediately,” Beistline said in his order. The election will be officially certified on Thursday by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, the lieutenant governor’s office said late on Tuesday after
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Mad GOP scramble for Senate seats

Less than two months after voters gave Republicans six more Senate seats and control of the House, the GOP is lining up candidates for 2012, well ahead of the pace of previous election cycles. Looking to ride what they hope will be a continuing Republican wave, nine potential challengers, including two each in Missouri and Virginia, already have said they are weighing bids for the U.S. Senate. They have an abundance of targets. Twenty-one of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012 are held by Democrats and two others are occupied by independents who align themselves with Democrats. Including those
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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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