Monday, March 2, 2015

Last Call For Choosing Sides

AIPAC, for those of you playing at home, stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. You know, "American" is first in the name. Unfortunately, the group has decided that this now means precisely nothing.

The leadership of the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. publicly broke Sunday from the White House over the issue of Iran policy during the first of a three-day policy conference in Washington attended by 16,000 of its members. 
Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, outlined a strategy moving forward of working through Congress to disrupt any nuclear agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak in denying the country a nuclear weapons capability. 
This would be achieved, they said, both by seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran and to block the White House’s ability to lift standing U.S. sanctions, which would be required as part of any comprehensive agreement. 
“Congress has a critical role” in determining this deal, Howard Kohr, Aipac’s executive director, said in opening remarks aimed at rallying the group’s membership. “Congress’s role doesn’t end when there is a deal. Congress must review this deal.” 
Mr. Kohr and other Aipac leaders believe any final agreement with Iran must involve the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, something Obama administration officials have said is no longer on the negotiating table. 
Aipac also is seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement by a late March deadline and to legislate an up-or-down vote in Congress. The White House is opposing both legislative actions. 
Aipac’s efforts to shape the Iran deal through the Congress are being driven by what the organization believes has been President Barack Obama’s wariness of using both financial pressure and the threat of military force to challenge Tehran.

So we have a foreign advocacy group, in country, publicly attacked our coutry's stated foreign policy and the president who made it.

There's a word for that.

There's a word for the members of Congress supporting AIPAC here too.

And certainly the conservative side believes it's time for some "strange fruit" for daring to be an American supporting America over Israel.

A Big Retirement In A Small State

The news today that Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland won't seek re-election in 2016 has both parties scrambling, and the list of her possible replacements includes former Gov. Martin O'Malley. He's now faced with the question of a very winnable Senate contest versus a long shot Oval Office bid in 2016.

Several of the seven Maryland Democrats in Congress are expected to consider jumping into the race, including Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, John Delaney and possibly Rep. John Sarbanes, whose father also served in the Senate.

Many in Maryland and on Capitol Hill have long viewed Van Hollen, a former aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who lives in Montgomery County, as a likely candidate for Senate once Mikulski stepped aside.

In the last six years, however, Van Hollen has become an increasingly loyal understudy of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has at times considered retiring herself. That means a Van Hollen bid for the Senate could also upend the eventual race to replace Pelosi.

The Senate seat could also be tempting for O’Malley (D), who left office because of term limits in January and is weighing a 2016 presidential bid that has yet to get any traction.

O’Malley has been close to Mikulski for decades. He worked as the field director on her 1986 campaign, and O’Malley’s 87-year-old mother continues to serve as Mikulski’s receptionist.

Mikulski has been cool to the idea of an O’Malley presidential bid, however, announcing she intends to support Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination if the former secretary of state runs.

At the same time, O’Malley has served in an executive role for the past 15 years — a stint that includes his tenure as Baltimore mayor — and advisers have previously said that he has limited appetite for legislative service.

Other names being talked about on the Democratic side include Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member and state-level Cabinet secretary; and former Montgomery County delegate Heather Mizeur, who ran unexpectedly strong in last year’s Democratic primary for governor on the strength of progressive support.

As with  Sen. Barbara Boxer's seat in California, this is a solid blue state where a lot of Dems have been waiting in the wings to claim the prize for a long time.  Mikulski has been serving for 29 years in the Senate and 12 in the House before that, making her the longest-serving woman in Congress, but the retirement wasn't entirely out of the question either as she will be 80 on Election Day in 2016.

We'll see where the Dems fall out and fall in there in Maryland, but remember, taking the eye off the ball is what cost the Dems the Governor's mansion in the state last year, and many (including myself) blame O'Malley for that screw up.

Schock And Flaw, Con't

More news organizations are taking a critical look at GOP Rep. Aaron Schock's hefty travel budget, often at taxpayer expense, as he continues to battle ethics and legal problems.  This time it's the Chicago Sun-Times with news that Schock took a private plane to a Chicago Bears game, among other "expenses".

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., used taxpayer money to pay for a private plane to travel from Peoria to Chicago for the Bears-Vikings game on Nov. 16, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

And a Sun-Times examination of House disbursement records and campaign finance reports suggests that Schock used taxpayer money to help underwrite a September trip to New York, where a political action committee he controls spent $3,000 for Global Citizen Festival concert tickets

The use of $20,855 in taxpayer money for the Chicago and New York trips will raise more legal and ethical issues for Schock.

These new Sun-Times revelations are part of a growing number of questions surrounding Schock’s use of campaign and government funds to support his extravagant jet-set lifestyle.

Schock hired two lawyers last week to conduct an internal audit of his operations. That action was triggered by the enormous scrutiny Schock is getting following his “Downton Abbey” office redecoration in Washington.
Pretty sure Schock's problem is that he needs to cook his books better.  But it's hard playing charte jet tag with the one percenters in Congress.  He has to look like he belongs if anyone's going to take him seriously.

Sadly, being crooked and not being able to lie about it very well pretty much disqualifies him from being a member of Congress, does it not?  We like our liars to at least be competent ones.


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