Tag Archive: US Senate

Nov 04 2020

Some Good News

Despite all the angst over the main event of the 2020 election season, there is some good news. Senator Martha McSally, Trump sycophant from Arizona, lost her appointed seat in a special election to former Astronaut and husband of former Representative Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly by a 6.8 point with only 82% of the vote …

Continue reading »

Aug 07 2020

The Real Purpose for Sally Yates’ Testimony: Propaganda to Elect Trump

You remember Sally Yates, who served as Acting Attorney General for 10 days in the fledgling Trump Crime Regime before the unindicted co-conspirator fired her for refusing to back his Muslim ban. She was back testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-SC). Ms. Yates blew the GOP conspiracy theories undercutting …

Continue reading »

Apr 27 2016

The Florida US Senate Debate

While the majority of the political world was focused on the five Eastern state primaries, a unique debate took place Monday night. Senatorial hopefuls Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Rep. David jolly (R-FL) participated in Florida Open Debate for U.S. Senate. They are both vying for the Senate seat vacated by Marco Rubio and both …

Continue reading »

Dec 17 2012

Meet Tim Scott, the Newest Senator

Shortly after the election, South Carolina’s junior senator and Tea Party hero, Jim DeMint announced his resignation to become the head of the right wing Washington based think tank, The Heritage Foundation. That left it to the Tea Party governor, Nikki Haley, to appoint someone to fill the remaining two years of DeMint’s senate term. Gov. Haley stated that she would not appoint a “place holder” but would look for a person who would be a viable candidate for a full term in 2014. Today the governor announced her decision, overlooking polling favorite and native son Stephen Colbert, appointing the African American freshman US Representative Tim Scott to the seat.

David Dayen at FDL News reports:

Scott becomes the first African-American Senator since Roland Burris left in 2010, and the first African-American representing the South in the Senate since Reconstruction (there have only been six other African-American Senators total in the history of the country). Gov. Haley made the announcement at the State House in Columbia a short while ago:

Mr. Scott, 47, offers a unique story and background, one that is in scant supply in the Republican Party right now. Raised by a single mother, he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.

“Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school,” Mr. Scott said in 2010, during his bid for the House, “my hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be.”

As David notes, don’t let Mr. Scott’s background fool you and links to this article at Think Progress:

By Scott Keyes on Dec 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

Tim Scott is America’s newest senator today after getting tapped by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to fill the vacancy left by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). DeMint announced this month that he was leaving the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation, an arch-conservative think tank in Washington DC.

Though DeMint left big, controversial shoes to fill for Republicans, few conservatives will be disappointed with Scott’s record. Elected to Congress just two years ago in the Tea Party wave, Scott has already garnered headlines for his plan to impeach President Obama, his legislation to cut off union members’ children from food stamps, and his defense of Big Oil.

Here’s a quick look at Scott’s record:

  • Floated impeaching Obama over the debt ceiling. As the debt ceiling debate raged in the summer of 2011 because of the intransigence of Tea Party freshmen like Scott, the nation inched perilously close to defaulting on its obligations. One option discussed by some officials to avoid that scenario was for the president to assert that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment. However, Tim Scott told a South Carolina Tea Party group that if Obama were to go this route, it would be an “impeachable act.”
  • Proposed a bill to cut off food stamps for entire families if one member went on strike. One of the most anti-union members of Congress, Scott proposed a bill two months after entering Congress in 2011 to kick families off food stamps if one adult were participating in a strike. Scott’s legislation made no exception for children or other dependents.
  • Wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display Ten Commandments outside county building. When Scott was on the Charleston County Council, one of his primary issues was displaying the Ten Commandments outside the Council building. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Scott said the display “would remind council members and speakers the moral absolutes they should follow.” When he was sued for violating the Constitution and a Circuit Judge’s orders, Scott was nonplussed: “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.”
  • Defended fairness of giving billions in subsidies to Big Oil. Scott and his Republican allies in Congress voted repeatedly last year to protect more than $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil corporations. When ThinkProgress asked Scott whether it was fair to do that, especially at a time when oil companies are earning tens of billions in profit every quarter, the Tea Party freshman defended the industry: “fair is a relative word,” said Scott.
  • Helped slash South Carolina’s HIV/AIDS budget. As a state representative, Scott backed a proposal to cut the state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, despite the fact that South Carolina ranks in the top-third of reported AIDS cases. The cuts were ultimately included in the state’s budget, impacting more than 2,000 HIV-positive South Carolinians who needed help paying for their medication.

If you thought that the Senate couldn’t possibly be any worse, oh my, were you wrong. Now more that ever, the Senate needs to reform filibuster.

Dec 02 2011

Abridging the Sixth Amendment

Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Tonight the US Senate has abridged that amendment with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act that contains a provision that would allow for the indefinite detention of American civilians arrested on American soil suspected of being “enemy combatants” by a vote of 93 -7. It allows for anyone alleged to be an “enemy combatant” anywhere in the world sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was drafted in secret and passed out of committee without a single hearing.

Glen Greenwald at Salon highlights the most alarming aspects of the bill:

   (1) mandates that all accused Terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system; it also unquestionably permits (but does not mandate) that even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil accused of Terrorism be held by the military rather than charged in the civilian court system (Sec. 1032);

   (2) renews the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) with more expansive language: to allow force (and military detention) against not only those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and countries which harbored them, but also anyone who “substantially supports” Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (Sec. 1031); and,

   (3) imposes new restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo (Secs. 1033-35). [..]

The Levin/McCain bill would require that all accused Terrorists be held in military detention and not be charged in a civilian court – including those apprehended on U.S. soil – with two caveats: (1) it exempts U.S. citizens and legal residents from this mandate, for whom military detention would still be optional (i.e., in the discretion of the Executive Branch); and (2) it allows the Executive Branch to issue a waiver if it wants to charge an accused Terrorist in the civilian system.

As per emptywheel, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment (pdf) that would have removed the language but it was defeated by a vote of 45 – 55.

Some has forgotten to tell the Senate that Osama bun Laden is dead, we have killed virtually all of Al Qaeda’s leadership and the group is “operationally ineffective” in the Afghan-Pakistan and region and that we are near completion of withdrawal from Iraq and beginning to draw down the troops in Afghanistan. But the absurd view from war hawk, conservatives like Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who believe Al Qaeda is a threat that requires trashing the Constitution, as Graham said:

“The threats we face as a nation are growing. Homegrown terrorism is going to become a greater reality, and we need to have tools,” Graham argued. “Law enforcement is one tool, but in some cases holding people who have decided to help al Qaeda and turn on the rest of us and try to kill us so we can hold them long enough to interrogate them to find out what they’re up to makes sense.”

“When you hold somebody under the criminal justice system you have to read them their rights right off the bat,” Graham added. “Under the law of war you don’t because the purpose is to gather intelligence. We need that tool now as much as any time, including World War II.”

That is most chilling statement regarding to our civil liberties. This is from the same man who supported President Obama’s due-process-free assassination of Anwar Awlaki that totally disregarded Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution which provides that nobody can be punished for treason without heightened due process requirements being met.

It isn’t often that freshman Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says something sensible but he wrote in the Washington Times defending the Sixth Amendment that the “war on terror doesn’t justify retreat on rights”:

James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned, “The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become instruments of tyranny at home.” Abraham Lincoln had similar thoughts, saying, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

During war, there has always been a struggle to preserve constitutional liberties. During the Civil War, the right of habeas corpus was suspended. Newspapers were closed. Fortunately, those actions were reversed after the war.

The discussion now to suspend certain rights to due process is especially worrisome, given that we are engaged in a war that appears to have no end. Rights given up now cannot be expected to be returned. So we do well to contemplate the diminishment of due process, knowing that the rights we lose now may never be restored.

Will President Obama veto this bill as has been hinted? Not likely, since as Greenwald point out Obama has maintained that dozens of detainees would continue to be held indefinitely and that he planned“not to close, but simply to re-locate to Illinois, the Guantanamo system of indefinite, military detention.” While the President has expressed his opposition to the bill, his objection is that the matter of denying accused terrorists a civilian trial is not up to Congress but for the President alone to decide. In other words, the White House’s objections are grounded in broad theories of Executive Power.

While Greenwald may be willing to believe the White House is opposed to having the military detain and imprison U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, there are those who think President Obama is more concerned over who should get to decide which accused terrorist suspects are denied due process, not whether they should be.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty. Benjamin Franklin

Chipping away at our liberties. Frightening.