Tag Archives: Congress

Who the Hell Is Mitch McConnell Anyway? by Fred Reed

Very few people pay attention and for good reason. It’s a flaccid, ineffectual body. From Fred Reed at theburningplatform.com:

It is curious: Though I have for decades worked in journalism, mostly in Washington, I know almost nothing of Congress. I mean this literally. I do not know who Mitch McConnell is, his function, or his politics, though I have the impression that he is a Republican. Who was, or is, Paul (I think it is) Ryan? Is he in the House or the Senate? I don’t know. I have no idea who heads any committee.

You might ask, “What sort of fraud is this Reed guy? Why doesn’t he know stuff that everybody knows?”

Easy. Because Congress doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. It is a bauble that fascinates the strange ingrown world of DC, but the marionettes are less important than those who pull their strings.

It may seem odd, but the national legislature has nothing to do with anything of importance. Consider the most crucial issues affecting America:

The endless wars. These kill millions who have done nothing to deserve killing, threaten America’s position in the world, and cost trillions. Congress does nothing.

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President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation! by Ron Paul

Bizarre but true. It’s harder now for a president to end a war than to start one. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.com:

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren’t any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

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The New Congress Can End Wars and Constrain the ‘Deep State.’ Will It? by Harry Blain

Once upon a time Congress did things like stopping the Vietnam War. It’s been a long time, though, since it’s done anything close to that worthwhile. From Harry Blain at antiwar.com:

Congress ended the Vietnam war, exposed horrific CIA and FBI abuses, and halted them. Where’s that energy now?

The U.S. Congress has power over two very important things: money and information.

It can, in theory and practice, end a war by refusing to fund it. It can (and has!) compelled the leading architects of American foreign policy – CIA directors, national security advisors, secretaries of defense – to answer for their uses and abuses of executive power publicly and under oath.

As anyone who has served in it will tell you, Congress has never experienced a “golden age” of dispassionate bipartisanship or attachment to high principle. Yet, its recent failures seem to reflect dangerous signs of decay: the rubber-stamping of a new CIA director implicated in the worst excesses of the agency’s torture program; the inability to even moderately question wars that have comfortably outlasted Vietnam; and almost total indifference to arms deals struck by the White House.

The story of how and why we got here is a vivid illustration of our deepening political dysfunction. But it also hints at how Congress can be renewed at a time when we desperately need it.

“An Invitation to Struggle”

As with so many key questions, the US constitution gives mixed answers on the role of Congress in American foreign policy.

Countless books and articles have been written on the subject, but the basic problem is this: The president gets the imperious job title of “commander-in-chief,” while his puny legislators reserve the power to declare and fund wars.

Because the summer of 1787 was hot, and some of our saintly “framers” either stopped paying attention, got drunk, or went home as the supreme law of the land was being written, fundamental tensions like these were never resolved. Instead, an “invitation to struggle” awaited future generations.

Historically, this “struggle” has exhibited some common features: our esteemed members of Congress becoming peculiarly concerned about presidential power when the opposite party occupies the White House; war-authorizing resolutions usually passing by lopsided margins; and anything seriously restricting executive power coming only after media or publicpressure.

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The Democrats’ IT Scandal, by Frank Miniter

Congress wants to sweep a potentially explosive IT scandal under the rug. From Frank Miniter at americanthinker.com:

After spending a year digging into the Democrats’ covered up I.T. scandal in Congress, I happen to know there is a lot here that Americans aren’t being allowed to know.  If all this group of I.T. administrators from Pakistan did in Congress doesn’t get out, then much of our freedom, which is wrapped up in this story, will be impacted.

The cover-up has been so effective that this isn’t happening.  Imran Awan, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)’s I.T. aide, got off without jail time or restitution on only bank fraud charges.  Congress got off without paying the price for possible corruption and for allowing a spy ring to run free in Congress.  We can’t even be sure that Congress has made the necessary reforms to stop another spy ring from infiltrating and spying on Congress and thereby using stolen data to blackmail a congressman, influence a vote, or just know where members of Congress stand on various pieces of legislation, all of which can impact us.

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FBI’s smoking gun: Redactions protected political embarrassment, not ‘national security’, by John Solomon

Try to contain your shock, but some of those redactions in documents the FBI and DOJ dribble out to congressional committees are to prevent embarrassment!  Who knew? Next thing you know they’ll be telling us that some people in those agencies don’t like Trump! From John Solomon at thehill.com:

To declassify or not to declassify? That is the question, when it comes to the FBI’s original evidence in the Russia collusion case.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI have tried to thwart President Trump on releasing the evidence, suggesting it will harm national security, make allies less willing to cooperate, or even leave him vulnerable to accusations that he is trying to obstruct the end of the Russia probe.

Before you judge the DOJ’s and FBI’s arguments — which are similar to those offered to stop the release of information in other major episodes of American history, from the Bay of Pigs to 9/11 — consider Footnote 43 on Page 57 of Chapter 3 of the House Intelligence Committee’s report earlier this year on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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The US 2019 Defense Budget Bill: Congress Defies the New World Order, by Alex Gorka

Congress is trying to use the appropriations process to tell all sorts of countries what they can and cannot do. From Alex Gorka at strategic-culture.org:

The House and Senate versions of the draft National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 were unveiled by Congress on July 23. Both include a provision to temporarily bar the transfers of F-35 joint strike fighters (JSF) to Turkey. According to the final 2019 defense bill, the Defense Department would be required to submit a report to lawmakers within 90 days about the relationship with Ankara, all its foreign weapons deals, and Turkey’s move to purchase the S-400 air-defense system from Russia before any more sales could go through. Until then the US would sit on any weapons transfers to Turkey. Ankara’s decision to buy the Russian S-400 air-defense system, the “F-35 killer,” has greatly aggravated bilateral ties between the US and Turkey, a relationship that was already clouded by many other issues.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation this month, with the Senate taking it up in early August. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had warned Congress against punishing Turkey by cutting off transfers of F-35s in retaliation for its plans to buy the Russian anti-aircraft system, but his opinion was ignored. The State Department has been putting pressure on Ankara to try to make it reconsider the S-400 deal, in favor of purchasing the less capable, US-made Patriot system.  US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell told the Senate “We’ve been very clear that across the board, an acquisition of S-400 will inevitably affect the prospects for Turkish military-industrial cooperation with the United States, including F-35.” Turkish officials view the US demand as blackmail.

Turkey is one of twelve partner nations in the F-35 program, nine of which have received the fighters through foreign military sales. Ankara has planned to purchase the 100 F-35 aircraft it technically already owns by investing $1.25 billion into the project. US legislators fear that using the F-35 and the S-400 together could compromise the F-35 and allow Russia to gain access to the sensitive technology.  As a result, the true owner has been denied access to his property by both houses of US Congress.

The bill includes a compromise waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act  (CAATSA) for the countries purchasing Russian military equipment, as long as they are taking steps to wean themselves from it.

To continue reading: The US 2019 Defense Budget Bill: Congress Defies the New World Order

Congress Prepares to Give Jeff Sessions More Power to Ban Whatever Substance He Doesn’t Like, by Michael Krieger

Congress wants to allow the federal government still more power to tell you what you can and cannot put in your own body. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Allowing government to arbitrarily determine which substances human beings can put into their own bodies is one of the most idiotic things a society can do. As such, its no surprise Congress is salivating at the prospect of furthering this travesty by giving additional discretion on the matter to drug war-crazed loon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Reason published an excellent article on the topic in yesterday’s piece: Congress Wants To Give Jeff Sessions Unprecedented New Drug War Powers.

Here are some key excerpts:

If you think the Department of Justice has more than enough tools to wage the war on drugs, a bill passed by the House would create a fast-track scheduling system that could lead to the criminalization of kratom, nootropics, and pretty much anything that gives you a buzz and isn’t already illegal.

The House of Representatives voted on Friday to create a new schedule of banned drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, called “Schedule A,” and to give Attorney General Jeff Sessions broad new powers to criminalize the manufacturing, importation, and sale of substances that are currently unregulated, but not illegal. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where co-sponsors Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) will likely have little problem whipping votes.

The Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogs Act, or SITSA, is intended to crack down on drugs that closely resemble currently banned or regulated substances in either their chemical structure or intended effects. SITSA would also empower the attorney general (A.G.) to add drugs to this new schedule with few checks from other branches of government….

To continue reading: Congress Prepares to Give Jeff Sessions More Power to Ban Whatever Substance He Doesn’t Like