Stormy Monday, 7/8/13

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If you don’t feel like doing something interesting with your Monday, like clipping your toenails or trying to teach your goldfish to roll over, watch for Rick Perry’s announcement about his “exciting future plans.” Will he declare his intention to run for a fourth term as Texas Governor? Or has he finally remembered the third federal government department he wants to shut down, clearing the way for another presidential run in 2016?

With none other than George Walker Bush urging Congress to get comprehensive immigration reform done, I now have to reassess my own enthusiasm for it. And don’t even get me started on the macabre irony of Bush uttering the words: “It’s very important to fix a broken system…”

Foreshadowing the probable fate of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill, Rep. Michael McCaul claimed in an interview this morning that Americans “don’t want a comprehensive bill like what we saw with Obamacare.” How he knows this, he didn’t say. Maybe he’ll explain it after he and his House Republican colleagues get together behind closed doors midweek to discuss how they’re going to derail reform.

Speaking of Obamacare, if you’re in Virginia or Ohio, watch for this week’s rollout of new TV ads (funded by the infamous America-hating Brothers Koch) designed to convince you that it sucks. The ads will later appear in other states. If the campaign is successful, watch for future Koch-financed commercials aimed at making you doubt and/or despise kittens, electricity and oxygen.

Secretary of State John Kerry returns to Israel later in the week to continue efforts to broker direct talks between that nation and the Palestinians. After last week’s flap about the State Department first denying then later admitting that Kerry spent time aboard his yacht in Nantucket as Egypt’s government was being overthrown, the Secretary no doubt craves the peace and tranquility that have always been hallmarks of the Middle East. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 7/8/13

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Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

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By the time you read this, the sequestration-related air traffic controller furlough should be over, after Congress stoically incurred friction burns rushing through emergency legislation coincidentally allowing its members to withdraw expeditiously from DC for a well-deserved nine-day recess. Added egalitarian dividend: you, Mr. or Ms. JQ Public, will once again be able to get ripped off, inconvenienced, insulted and treated like a criminal at an airport near you. With luck, you’ll be able to depart before H7N9, China’s new and improved strain of life-threatening bird flu, arrives. Ah, normalcy.

If you survive all that, you can treat yourself to a Twinkie come July, when the sugary snack rises from the dead with a little help from non-union labor.

After determining that Paul Kevin Curtis was guilty of nothing more than being a fair-to-middling Elvis impersonator, authorities have now arrested James Everett Dutschke in connection with the ricin-contaminated letters sent to Judge Sadie Holland, Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama on April 8.

Dutschke, who has unsuccessfully run for political office twice – once as a Republican and once as a Democrat – also faces multiple counts of child molestation, but was out on bond, at least until his Saturday arrest. The FBI’s handling of the ricin case has drawn a lot of criticism. Have they finally got the right guy? Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/29/13

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Stormy Monday, 4/22/13

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With the bill to expand background checks defeated last Wednesday, the focus in the Senate this week shifts to immigration reform. It has even been posited that the failure of the former might strengthen the odds for the latter, which seems a little farfetched, but the “Gang of Eight” sounded reasonably optimistic in the Thursday press conference held to introduce their bill. They envision a June vote on the legislation.

To that end, the Judiciary Committee kicks off the week with a 20-witness hearing on the issue. And just to remind you that this is Washington and there’s no requirement for things to make sense, witness panel II will include Grover Norquist.

The House, meanwhile, will occupy itself with the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, a bill designed to smooth the government’s protracted withdrawal from the helium market. This week the House is also expected to honor Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, who lost their lives in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/22/13

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Stormy Monday, 4/15/13

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After the President rolled out a 244-page budget last week that I’m told consists solely of the words “chained CPI,” I doubt the coming week will offer up comparable oddities, but I’ve been wrong before.

At least a little oddly, it seems the Senate might produce some bipartisan gun legislation yet. Illinois’ Mark Kirk and Maine’s Susan Collins have signaled support for the Toomey/Manchin compromise bill expanding background checks to internet and gun show purchases, albeit with a “personal transfer” exemption that rolls out a plush red carpet for the tragic headlines of tomorrow. Debate on the bill will move ahead after a filibuster was averted by a 68-31 vote on Thursday. While this all sounds encouraging, any Senate gun bill will likely be shot dead by the House.

The full Senate might also be presented with a proposal that would provide a defined path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States on or before December 31, 2011 (and renewed fear of deportation for those who arrived a day or more later). A new guest worker program for farm workers has reportedly attained bipartisan consensus in the eight-senator group trying to hammer out a comprehensive immigration bill. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 4/15/13

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US Snubs Possible Al Qaeda 'Olive Branch'

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In recent weeks, officials from the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force have briefed security officials of top Wall Street firms about the existence of a Yemen-based Al Qaeda plot to attack major banks and investment houses — possibly targeting individual high-ranking executives of Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays, among others.

The move follows months of infighting among national security officials since the initial discovery of the planned attacks.  While some experts see the plot as an attempt to further disrupt US and world financial markets, many see it as a gesture intended to be a first step toward a dialogue and perhaps reconciliation with the West.

“Clearly, it is not unreasonable to interpret this as a ‘peace offering’ aimed at what little is left of the American middle class,” according to Newton Toomey, professor of 21st Century Financial Terrorism at Pueblo State University.  “It may very well be their way of saying to the average taxpayer and/or homeowner, ‘we understand and we’re with you’ — after all, who better to understand the prospect of living in caves while ducking bill collectors?”

House Speaker John Boehner, speaking on condition of anonymity after being briefed on the situation by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano late last night, applauded the decision to “err on the side of caution and presume the worst possible motives” in responding to any threat.  “While I could never say this on the record, I applaud the courage shown by the Administration in their handling of this situation.  In the wake of the financial meltdown, the subsequent taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout and the millions of resulting foreclosures, it would have been easy to do the ‘popular thing’ and allow events to unfold in due course without interference,” the visibly concerned Boehner told an Al Jazeera reporter posing as a tanning booth technician, adding, “With the Republican Party facing its most crucial election in decades, I am personally elated that Wall Street executives will be kept safe.  I only hope the same can be said about our other big donors.” Continue reading US Snubs Possible Al Qaeda ‘Olive Branch’

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