Legal marijuana is spreading like a weed across the land but it has yet to take root in the place where people might benefit most from inhaling: the U.S. Capitol.
The Maryland General Assembly finished work Monday on a marijuana decriminalization bill, joining two dozen other states and the District in some form of legalization. Colorado and Washington allow recreational pot, while most others have legalized only medical marijuana, but the combined campaign has redefined the meaning of a grass-roots movement.
Still, federal law hasn’t budged, and a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) that would recognize the medical value of marijuana has languished for a year; it has only 23 co-sponsors and no chance of passing. On Monday, when members of the pro-legalization Americans for Safe Access held their annual “lobby day” on Capitol Hill, not a single member of Congress granted them a personal audience.
20 brazen self professed illegal aliens have just invaded my DC office. Obama's lawless order gives them de facto immunity from U.S. law.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) issued a harsh 140-character message Thursday for the hundreds of DREAMers who are storming Capitol Hill over the next few weeks to confront politicians and make sure the proposed immigration reform bill does not get watered down—specifically a provision that would allow families separated by deportation to be reunited.
President Barack Obama’s decision to transform his campaign into the freestanding lobbying group “Organizing for Action” is groundbreaking in many ways — but the idea of creating an outside organization to put pressure on Capitol Hill dates back at least to Ronald Reagan.
President Bill Clinton even tried to create one 20 years ago. In 1993, seeking to to marshal grassroots support for his health-care reform effort, his team’s first impulse was to set up a standalone entity that could anonymously raise and spend large sums of money on polling, petition drives, phone banks and TV commercials.
Obama’s got big plans for OFA, and the group’s leaders are heavy on ambition for what they’ll be able to do to make the president’s agenda on issues like gun control and immigration a reality. But while campaign finance laws have changed over the years, some of the same problems — in both the law and public perception — that hounded previous White House-connected outside influence efforts could lay ahead for Obama. And, so far, neither the White House nor OFA is saying much about how they plan to avoid them.
*disclosure: I receive OFA emails.
President Obama doesn’t have anything on his public schedule Thursday, but he is likely to keep an eye on Capitol Hill and the confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel.
Hagel, criticized by Republican senators over Israel, Iran, and other foreign policy issues, will take questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
While the critics say Hagel has been too soft on Iran and its nuclear ambitions, the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska took a hard line in written answers to questions from the committee.
Hagel warned of consequences if Iran defies global demands that it give up the means to make nuclear weapons, and and told senators: “If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that the U.S. military is in fact prepared for any contingency.”
At this point, Hagel seems a good bet for confirmation.
Welcome, Know-Nothings: The new Congress is a bunch of ignoramuses when it comes to foreign policy. That’s probably a good thing
The 113th Congress has just been sworn in, and it’s a safe bet that it will be no more engaged with foreign policy, and no more competent to serve as a useful check on the Obama administration, than was its predecessor. This is mostly a prerogative of the opposition, and congressional Republicans have paid remarkably little attention to President Barack Obama’s conduct of foreign affairs. Last month, they roused themselves to block confirmation of a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled, which apparently posed a grave threat to the nation’s sovereignty. In recent weeks, of course, the GOP has lashed itself into a fury over the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, laboring to gin up a tragic mishap into a full-fledged scandal. But on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, China, and the war on terror — not much. Really, it’s been a blessing.
It has not always been so, of course. While foreign policy, unlike domestic policy, does not normally depend on legislation or congressional authorization, thus giving far greater latitude to the executive branch, presidents have often had to face stiff resistance from Congress. President Lyndon Johnson provoked a storm of opposition on Capitol Hill when he escalated the Vietnam War; William Fulbright, a fellow Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), impaneled a series of hearings that showcased devastating critiques of Johnson’s conduct of the war. Politicians on both sides of the aisle believed that Johnson had hoodwinked them into supporting the Gulf of Tonkin resolution enabling the escalation; many of them vowed never again to automatically defer to the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy.
In the mid-1970s, Democratic Senator Frank Church conducted spectacular hearings into the CIA’s history of assassinations. Republicans fought President Jimmy Carter every step of the way on his human rights policy and support for left-leaning regimes in Latin America. When Ronald Reagan reversed Carter’s policies in order to back anti-Communist insurgents, a Democratic-controlled Congress passed the Boland Amendment banning military aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. It was this prohibition that Reagan tried to evade with the elaborate subterfuge known as Iran-Contra — which was itself fully exposed to the public in the Senate’s weeks-long Iran-Contra hearings that made Oliver North a household name. Had President Richard Nixon’s impeachment not been fresh in everyone’s minds, Democrats might well have moved to impeach Reagan over the lies required to conduct a secret foreign policy.
I left the Republican Party in 2010 because these teavangelical ninnyhammers had gained too much power and were dragging the whole party in terrible direction. It was right to leave then, and it’s right to stay away from this large pack of suicidally destructive fools now.
In more than a dozen interviews with The Associated Press, activists said they would rather the nation fall off the cliff than agree to a compromise that includes tax increases for any Americans, no matter how high their income. They dismiss economists’ warnings that the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 could trigger a fresh recession, and they overlook the fact that most people would see their taxes increase if President Barack Obama and Boehner, R-Ohio, fail to reach a year-end agreement.
The strong opposition among tea party activists and Republican leaders from New Hampshire to Wyoming and South Carolina highlights divisions within the GOP as well as the challenge that Obama and Boehner face in trying to get a deal done.
On Capitol Hill, some Republicans worry about the practical and political implications should the GOP block a compromise designed to avoid tax increases for most Americans and cut the nation’s deficit.
“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority,” Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, said Thursday night shortly after rank-and-file Republicans rejected Boehner’s “Plan B” — a measure that would have prevented tax increases on all Americans but million-dollar earners.
Here’s an excerpt from Michael Smerconish’s seventh interview with President Obama, this one took place Friday in the Oval Office.
Michael Smerconish: Let’s talk polarization… . You’ve been unsuccessful in getting Republicans to work with you. Today, I noted that the Washington Post … said that you’ve been isolated… . What can, what will, you do in a second term to win cooperation from Republicans?
President Obama: Well, I think the most important thing is, after the election - and I believe I’m going to win - to once again bring the Republicans together with my administration and Democrats and say to them, the election is over; we still have some big problems to solve, and the goal of making me a one-term president is behind us. And the question now is, how do we move forward in a way that strengthens middle-class families, makes sure that job growth is strong, and that wages are going up.
Probably the first piece of business is going to be to go ahead and fix our deficit and debt issues, and make a decision about how big our government is and how we’re going to pay for it. And I put forward a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan - we’ve already cut a trillion dollars’ worth of government spending. We can do the rest by a sensible combination of spending cuts and some revenue.
And if we can spend the first four, five, six months getting that done, so that the American people feel like the parties came together and put us on a more solid fiscal footing, where we don’t have to worry about taxes going up sky high for everybody, we don’t have to worry about massive cuts that would hurt our economy and our growth, then I think that that will break the fever here in Washington.
Q: Will you make the first move? Will you go to Capitol Hill?
A: Listen, I’ve said to folks, I’ll go to Capitol Hill, I’ll wash [House Speaker] John Boehner’s car, I’ll walk [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s dog - I’ll do whatever is required to get this done. And I think the key that the American people want right now is for us to tackle some big challenges that we face in a common-sense, balanced, sensible way.
See the Romney reaction here: littlegreenfootballs.com
Congress is angling for that sound bite instead of jobs.
The Congress is in, but it’s far from lawmaking.
For the next 3 1/2 sweltering weeks on Capitol Hill, lawmakers will look busy, say many words and lob blame at each other. They will even cast votes on such weighty matters as health care reform, taxes and more. But they’re not expected to pass much legislation, opting instead for what amounts to campaigning from the televised House and Senate floors, or anywhere on the stately campus where a microphone might be live.
Just back from a weeklong July Fourth break, they’re not even pretending to govern. The schedule and all of the body language says they’re marking time: The Republican-led House this week got to work debating and voting on yet another doomed measure to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law. The Democratic-led Senate, meanwhile, is debating whether to give businesses a tax cut if they expand their payrolls, and whether to extend some or all of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts - more measures not expected to go anywhere.
In January 2008, President George W. Bush was scrambling to bolster the American economy. The subprime mortgage industry was collapsing, and the Dow Jones industrial average had lost more than 2,000 points in less than three months.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner became the Bush administration’s point person on Capitol Hill to negotiate a $150 billion stimulus package.
In the days that followed, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. made frequent phone calls and visits to Boehner. Neither Paulson nor Boehner would publicly discuss the progress of their negotiations to shore up the nation’s financial portfolio.
On Jan. 23, Boehner (R-Ohio) met Paulson for breakfast. Boehner would later report the rearrangement of a portion of his own financial portfolio made on that same day. He sold between $50,000 and $100,000 from a more aggressive mutual fund and moved money into a safer investment.
The next day, the White House unveiled the stimulus package.
Boehner is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis after phone calls or meetings with Paulson; his successor, Timothy F. Geithner; or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, according to a Washington Post examination of appointment calendars and congressional disclosure forms.
The lawmakers, many of whom held leadership positions and committee chairmanships in the House and Senate, changed portions of their portfolios a total of 166 times within two business days of speaking or meeting with the administration officials. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 19 to 15.
In the past two decades, some of the most divisive debates in American politics have been over the role of multilateralism in U.S. foreign policy.
Many Democrats, for example, believed that the Bush administration’s apparent embrace of unilateralism did great harm to existing international institutions and to the United States’ reputation abroad. As Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz argued in Foreign Affairs (“Grand Strategy for a Divided America,” July/August 2007), “The Republican Party, virtually bereft of its moderates after the 2006 elections, has little patience for cooperative multilateralism — and will gladly deploy its power in the Senate to block any programmatic effort to bind Washington to international agreements and institutions.”
Meanwhile, many Republicans portray Democrats as enamored of multilateral rules and processes for their own sake and neglectful of some of the United States’ security needs. As the Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote of the Obama administration’s Libya policy, “for Obama, military objectives take a back seat to diplomatic appearances. The president is obsessed with pretending that we are not running the operation.”
Yet how deep is the partisan divide over the place of multilateralism in U.S. foreign policy? To explore this question, in the past year we sent a survey to foreign policy professionals: 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, who had served in a mid-level or higher foreign policy position in the Clinton, Bush, or Obama administrations, or on Capitol Hill. The respondents included 23 Democrats and 20 Republicans.