Niels Lesniewski

Either Worth the Moment, or Not

A portion of the U.S. Capitol dome. (Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images, 2013)

This could be . . . fun? . . . interesting? More to the point, it seems one of those bits that is either important or not:

President Donald Trump smiles as he prepares to speak at his "Make America Great Again Rally" at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, Saturday, 18 February 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The White House hopes the Senate will get spending bills done and curtail the nominations backlog before the August recess, but it is backing a call to cut down the break if needed to overcome delays in confirming President Donald Trump’s nominations.

Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, made that clear during an event on Capitol Hill Tuesday with conservative leaders, putting the onus on Democrats to move the process along.

“If we reach August and [they] still have not completed appropriations work or not confirmed our nominees, then of course we would like to see Congress stay in and do its work,” Short said.

“We think it’s not work for the administration,” Short said. “It’s work for the American people.”

(Lesniewski)

Some manner of chortle goes here, but everything will either make better sense, later, or else not really matter at all. It’s like a punch line waiting for a setup.

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Image note: Top — Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.  President Donald Trump. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

Lesniewski, Niels. “White House: No August Recess Until Appropriations, Nominations Done”. Roll Call. 8 May 2018.

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The Trump Fantastic (#trumpstyle)

#trippingthetrumpfantastic | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Central Intelligence Agency, 21 January 2016, in Langley, Virginia. (Photo: Olivier Doulier/Pool/Getty Images)

“Usually, even the laziest of partisans aren’t quite so ridiculous when dealing with the legislative branch’s oversight role over the executive branch.”

Steve Benen

Something goes here about striking decay. And something unfortunate about how that sounds about right. No, really: In what universe?

(more…)

Unsurprising Cowardice (Leadership)

The shadow over Congress, and Mitch McConnell.

In February, Republicans said no to an Authorization for Use of Military Force specifically crafted to address Daa’ish because it wasn’t a big enough war. And while Republican presidential candidates might be lining up to take it out on Syrian refugees and Muslims both at home and around the world, the one thing they won’t do, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is grant an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Daa’ish.

“The president obviously feels he has the authority now to do what he’s doing,” McConnell said. “And the discussions with Democrats on AUMF make it clear that the only kind of AUMF they would support is one that would include such micromanagement of the military exercise as how many troops you could have, how long they could stay, and all of this.

“I would not want to saddle the next president with a prescriptive AUMF. We’re going to have a new president a year from now,” McConnell continued. “He or she may have a different view about the way to deal with ISIS and that part of the world. I don’t think we ought to be passing an AUMF as the president exits the stage when he already thinks he has the authority to do what he’s willing to do now.”

(Lesniewski)

This is a weird back and forth; as near as anyone can tell, the Obama administration is operating in the Levantine Theatre under the auspices of the same post-9/11 AUMF that saw President Bush invade Iraq. We are, essentially, living in the time of perpetual warfare authorized fourteen years ago.

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Tell Me You’re Joking)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gestures while addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

It seems something of a dubious claim, but this is Ted Cruz, so there is, of course, a hitch.

First, though, ask yourself just how likely it is that anyone can be a career politician from Texas and never meet a fellow conservative who advocates Fertilization-Assigned Personhood, a.k.a., “Life at Conception”.

But here’s the hitch: While FAP would ban oral, intrauterine, and emergency contraception accessible to females, Mr. Cruz doesn’t see that as problematic.

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” Cruz told a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa, as CNN and other outlets reported. “When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom; you put 50 cents in and voila!”

Cruz argued that Democrats have conflated Republican opposition to abortion rights with opposition to contraception. “Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives,” Cruz said.

(Lesniewski)

See? He doesn’t want to ban contraception. He just wants it to be a man’s decision. In truth, I’m curious how young one must be to not recognize the phrase “taking a shower with a raincoat on”.

No, really. Show of hands. How many people think history would describe men as enthusiastic, adept users of condoms?

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Deeply Invested)

TedCruz-bw-banner

Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Ted Cruz Show:

Ted Cruz for President 2016 logo.Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that doing everything possible to thwart the Iran deal should include states exploring imposing their own sanctions.

The Republican presidential candidate from Texas was asked at a raucous town hall-style forum here about the prospects of states taking action to impose sanctions on the money the Obama administration has agreed to release as part of the deal regarding the country’s nuclear development.

“I think that states should act and lead to do exactly that,” Cruz said.

You may, of course, proceed to laugh yourself to emergency surgery if you are so inclined, but the Texas junior isn’t done yet, as Niels Lesniewski makes clear for Roll Call. Mr. Cruz recalled an occasion when, as solicitor general, he rebuffed an attempt by President George W. Bush to force Texas to apply the authority of the International Criminal Court. Roll Call On the Road.Without drawing any connection to his proposition that states conduct geopolitics, Cruz reminded, “The court further concluded that no president, Republican of Democrat, has the constitutional authority to give up U.S. Sovereignty. So I think states ought to go down that road.”

We might suggest to wonder what that actually means, but such a question also demands wondering if we might ever find out. Ted Cruz is deeply invested in nonsense.

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Lesniewski, Niels. “Ted Cruz to States: Impose Your Own Iran Sanctions”. Roll Call. 9 August 2015.

The V.A. Shuffle

Grieving in Columbia

“If the price tag is any indication, Sanders compromised quite a bit – the Senate bill, which passed in June on a 93-to-3 vote, had a price tag of $35 billion over 10 years. This new agreement with the GOP-led House has reduced the aid package to $15 billion, less than half the original total.”

Steve Benen

Perhaps some of us recall a recent Beltway dustup when it was discovered that the Veterans Administration was apparently failing to do its job, even going so far as to keep secret lists describing reality while devising all sorts of lies on paper to suggest everything was … well … that is the question, isn’t it?

After all, perhaps some of us also remember that the idea of the VA as a bureaucratic nightmare akin to that planet-eating monster thing in Rise of the Silver Surfer, a film that, like the 113th Congress, probably should have been shelved, or else simply never greenlit.

We all know the cycle; this is just a particularly ugly manifestation. Indeed, it seems a perpetual part of our American experience; take a noble endeavor that cannot be recorded in body counts, territorial annexations, or ledgers, and think about how a society engages those challenges.

Twenty years ago, it was schools. The “No Child Left Behind” debacle was the height of a movement idea. The schools, facing budgetary issues challenging their ability to perform their jobs, were told that they needed to show they could do the job without the extra money, and then the legislatures would consider writing the checks.

Step one? Describe the problem.

Step two? Refuse to do anything about the problem.

Step three? Tell people that if they show they can solve the problem without the legislature’s help, the legislature will consider the possibility of just maybe deciding to do something to help.

To wit, perhaps some might also conjure up a strange memory, seemingly recent, in which a sitting U.S. Senator castigated veterans support groups for failing to agree with him. (more…)

Kansas

There is nothing about Niels Lesniewski’s report for Roll Call that isn’t sad. While we already know American politics is a strange country, but consider the state of the Republican primary for the Kansas U.S. Senate race:

The Kansas DebacleAlexandria, Va., and Alexandria, Kan., are nothing alike.

One is a suburb of the national’s capital. The other is just a few miles from Leavenworth. But a tea party group based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., wants to host a Kansas Senate primary debate, and the long-shot challenger has already accepted the invitation.

A group known as the Northern Virginia Tea Party is offering to host a debate between veteran Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf may be best known to HOH readers as a distant relative of President Barack Obama.

Wolf, a radiologist, has fire for, among other things, posting patient x-ray images on Facebook ….

…. Of course, the invite’s an attempt to get some publicity for residency questions for Roberts that gained attention from a New York Times report back in February.

It is almost enough to feel sorry for Kansans. To the one, they have a distant cousin of President Obama trying to use that association to give credibility to his opposition to the White House. But he’s also an unethical radiologist, which could easily be exploited for an attack about what kind of person so pointedly opposes President Obama. To the other, a career politician who is so ensconced in the Beltway culture that it is hard for Kansans to figure out if he even lives in the state.

Like I said, though, almost.

There comes a point, after all, where we must accept the fact that the people of Kansas did this to themselves.

Something to Keep an Eye On

USCapitol-bw

“What was the point of all that? This just shoots you in the arm! It doesn’t make breakfast at all!”

—Peter Griffin

Sausage. Rube Goldberg. Speak nothing of the breakfast machine.

FamilyGuy-BreakfastMachineThere are more elegant metaphors, but most involve some sort of mythic creatures, sci-fi awesomeness, or simply the hand of God. Oh, wait, I said mythic creatures. I don’t know, maybe we can low-bid for those witches from MacBeth.

Exhibit A: Beltway gossip.

Sen. Ted Cruz met with roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans for around two hours late Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast.

The group appeared to be talking strategy about how they should respond to a tentative Senate deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling without addressing Obamacare in a substantive way, according to sources who witnessed the gathering. The Texas Republican senator and many of the House Republicans in attendance had insisted on including amendments aimed at dismantling Obamacare in the continuing resolution that was intended to avert the current shutdown.

Sources said the House Republicans meeting in the basement of Tortilla Coast with Cruz were some of the most conservative in the House: Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, Steve Southerland II of Florida, Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Justin Amash of Michigan.

The group is a collection of members who have often given leadership headaches in recent years by opposing both compromise measures as well as packages crafted by fellow Republicans. And, it seems, leadership unwittingly became aware of the meetup.

Fuller

The appearance is obvious; Sen. Cruz is already known to be plotting against Speaker Boehner. The question at this point is what he thinks he is working toward.

(more…)

Beer News

Good beer news, everybody!

Er, wait ….

Good news about beer! News about good beer!

Good news about good beer, everybody!

Ah … er … um … sort of.

Eighteen senators want to encourage drinking craft beer. They’re touting new legislation to slash the excise tax on beer produced by smaller breweries.

BeerThe bipartisan group, led by Maryland Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin and Maine Republican Susan Collins, wants to cut the excise tax in half, to $3.50 a barrel, on the first 60,000 barrels of beer. Other taxes would also be reduced ….

…. The push to reduce this small brewer tax rate comes ahead of American Craft Beer Week, which kicks off on Monday. It is just one of a slew of narrowly targeted tax provisions that could come under scrutiny as part of a bid to overhaul and simplify the federal tax code. Cardin, Schumer and several other co-sponsors sit on the tax-writing Finance Committee.

(Lesniewski)

Raise a glass.

Hey, how about a drinking game? Every time you call, snail-, or e-mail your senators and representative, take a drink.

And, no, don’t show them your secret tattoos, superfluous third nipples, or genital piercings.

You know. Beer. Concentrate on what’s important.