Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power to “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”[i] With this grant of power, Congress created the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) exercised through the creation of American Military Courts-Martial.[ii]
Unbeknownst to many Americans, military personnel are held to laws that are not founded on the traditional common law system. Soldiers can be punished for behavior that has little to no consequence in normal civilian society. Conduct such as adultery, dueling, and “conduct unbecoming of a gentleman or an officer” are all punishable crimes in a military court-martial.[iii]
The court-martial process is also one unparalleled by the common law justice system taught in American law schools. Many scholars are concerned that the UCMJ affords soldiers less due process rights than a typical civilian in a federal or state court.[iv] Among these “reduced rights” are limited safeguards against command bias and the potential for false conviction through what is known as “unlawful command influence.” The system is extremely hierarchical in the sense that all panel members of the court-martial “jury” are under the control of the commander.[v] This system leads critics to believe that the panel members will choose to convict the defendant based on the knowledge that the commander brought the charges against him and thus wanted the accused to be convicted.
Full disclosure: I live in DC on just over 10% of what a congresscritter makes. Color me irate.
Moran has some Deep Thoughts about how to shower more coin on the Do Nothing Congress he is a part of. Perhaps, he mused, it could be pegged to what other federal employees make? Great plan, Moran, except that the average salary of a federal worker is about 45% of what your lazy lot already make.
>>The Office of Personnel Management reported that as of September 2012, the average salary for a full-time, permanent, non-seasonal position was $78,467. The comparable figure for December 2010 was $76,701.
>>The median salary — the point at which half are above and half are below — is now $74,714, up from $69,550 in 2010.
We are down with this. Here you go, James Moran. We’ll drop your salary down to $78K, just like a federal worker, and then you can get the regular raises they get, which happen about every completely whimsical time Congress does not cockblock their raises. Why, you’ll be back up to $174,000 in no time at all, and by “no time” we mean literally never.
Of course it’s not as if most of them were not already millionaires with a legal entitlement to insider trading.
Hat Tip: Wonkette Further links to Talking Points Memo and Roll Call.
The US Treasury has warned Congress that the debt ceiling raising time again, and as before, the Republicans are dancing around trying to tie the debt ceiling to one or another of their pet causes.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew says the day of destiny this time is Feb. 27.
The last debt ceiling showdown hurt economic output, employment, and America’s standing among global investors, experts say.
Flirting with default comes with costs, even if the government never misses a single payment, experts said. A new study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a research group based in Washington, suggested that the cost of last year’s fiscal standoffs lopped roughly a percentage point, or $150 billion, off economic output and cost 750,000 jobs.
Around the world, the perception of Treasury debt as being absolutely safe has shifted, said Adam S. Posen, president of the Peterson Institute and a former central banker at the Bank of England. Managers of sovereign-wealth funds in countries like Norway and Singapore are rethinking their exposure to the dollar, he said.
“The dumb money says, ‘Every time I reacted to a debt deliberation in the United States, I overreacted and lost money,’ ” he said. “But the smart money knows the market has been changed by this uncertainty.”
Over the last few days, as the Passion Of Big Chicken has riveted the Green Rooms, the never-really-dormant Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! wingnut conjuring spell has gotten itself a workout from every Republican spokescritter from Rudy 9/11 to obvious anagram Reince Priebus. You may also recall that Congress spent many full days engaged in what Darrell Issa referred to as an investigation over what happened when a U.S. consulate was overrun and American personnel killed. Issa concluded that, as regards the security of the compound, the president and Hillary Clinton failed the country by failing to swing into the compound on ropes with knives in their teeth and their faces painted blue.
So, anyway, all that happened. Yesterday, the Congress laid out the budget proposal that resulted from the Murray-Ryan bipartisan glory train. Naturally, because of The Deficit that is coming to strangle our grandchildren in their beds, sacrifices had to be made.
Despite the concern over security after the 2012 attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, the spending bill earmarks less to embassy security, construction and maintenance than it allotted for fiscal 2013 - $2.67 billion, down by $224 million.
That isn’t a line-item. It’s a punchline.
If you’re gay, its looking more and more like the Republican Party is not for you. Just imagine the outrage if a Democrat did something like this.
Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes is back in the news. We last wrote about Forbes in October when he was set to fundraise for an anti-gay hate group, the American Family Association (AFA). Now he’s pushing to deny money to gay Republican candidates for Congress - because they’re gay. Unfortunately for Forbes, his anti-gay bigotry is undercutting his effort to become chair of the powerful House Armed Services Committee.
But seriously. They need to get paid.
This grandstanding ignoramus and bully represents my soon to be former home of Lubbock. He is also known for shouting “baby killer” at another representative during an abortion debate in 2010. He is one of the richest members of Congress.
Perhaps you might have heard there’s a government shutdown going on right now. And what goes along with a government shutdown is the closing of things like national parks and monuments.
One of the bigger stories surrounding such closings this week involved the WWII Memorial and a Texas Congressman who scolded a park ranger for denying people access to the site due to the government shutdown. In other words, for doing her job.
Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer publicly unleashed a verbal attack on the park ranger, who was denying people access to the closed WWII Memorial. Neugebauer chided the ranger and the National Park Service for the closure. The Texas Congressman said they “should be ashamed of themselves” for denying people access.
Wait — let that sink in for just a moment.
A Republican member of the House of Representatives (the people responsible for the shutdown which has closed memorials such as the WWII Memorial) said a park ranger and the National Park Service should be ashamed of themselves for denying people access.
This jackass needs to look in the mirror before he tells anyone that they should be ashamed of themselves for this shutdown. It’s people like him who have caused this mess. Not the Park Service or the park ranger who was working without pay that day due to Republicans holding our government hostage.
Well, Mr. Neugebauer’s pathetic public display has landed him with an ethics complaint stating that he was trying to intimidate the park ranger with his position in Congress, to force the ranger to allow access to the memorial.
Essentially he, as a member of the House of Representatives, used his position to publicly scold the ranger in an effort to shame her enough so that she would go against rules and allow access to the WWII Memorial — even though the Republican-forced shutdown clearly prevents that from being possible.
Nothing quite like attacking an innocent park ranger for something you caused to prove what a complete prick you really are. The arrogance of this individual is reprehensible, and anyone who voted for him should be ashamed of themselves.
This poor woman was there, doing her job without any promise of being paid to do so, getting berated by a “public servant” for a situation that he and his party are responsible for.
But is this really all that shocking? Republicans are no strangers to complete hypocrisy, and are often the first ones to blame someone else for the problems they caused. President Obama knows that all too well.
And this shutdown is no different. Only in the warped, delusional mind of a Republican can the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, block a vote on the Senate resolution which would reopen our government — but it’s all President Obama and the Democrats’ fault. The resolution would easily pass the House and be signed by President Obama but Boehner’s blocking it from being voted on, and yet they stand there and blame Democrats and President Obama for the shutdown.
I’ll tell you what — Republicans can call the shutdown the fault of President Obama and the Democrats the moment Boehner allows the House to vote on a clean Senate resolution, and it doesn’t pass the House.
But he won’t do that. Because if he did, it would pass the House, and the government would be reopened.
Which is exactly what many Republicans don’t want to happen.
Why should Congress get paid for not doing their job? That’s the question Democratic Representative Rick Nolan from Minnesota is asking. Nolan introduced a bill yesterday that would block members of Congress from being paid during the government shutdown.
The bill, titled “No Government, No Pay Act,” would prevent members of Congress from being paid as long as the government continues to be shut down.
Representative Nolan explained his proposal:
“The inability of this Congress to collaborate, compromise, and get things done has led me to introduce legislation to prohibit Members from being paid when failure to do their job results in a government shutdown. It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid.”
Sadly, the bill probably violates the 27th Amendment and doesn’t stand much chance at passing. But even if it didn’t violate anything, I’m sure most members of Congress would soundly reject such a proposal.