Congress

Israel Wants to Buy Peace With Gaza

By on 7.23.14 | 5:33PM

John Kerry has made a surprise visit to Jerusalem to negotiate a cease-fire between Gaza and Israel, but since the conflict thus far has served only to unify Gazans and Israelis alike in mutual dislike, a more creative solution will be needed.

There is a certain appeal to this image of Kerry flying in unannounced to Israel's airport—which was recently closed to Americans for safety reasons—perhaps with a red, white, and blue cape fluttering in the breeze created by passing missiles. It is not terribly realistic, though. Both Israelis and Gazans view Egypt and the Obama administration—the powers that negotiated the ceasefire in 2012—with suspicion, and that will make a repeat deal challenging. 

Besides that, neither side would gain much from a return to the tense, non-violent hostility of a month ago. For Israel, it would be a matter of time before war began again. And besides thatexplained Jerusalem Post reporter Gil Hoffman, Israelis are almost unanimously behind the ground invasion: 

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The Congressional Spectator

Snuff Boxes and Spittoons, But No Laptops?

By 1.27.14

The floors of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are rich in tradition and tightly governed by strict rules of decorum. That’s important to both institutions, but occasionally it is a major obstruction to progress.

One shocking example is that lawmakers are prohibited from using laptops on the floors of either body. Oh, to be sure, quill pens, snuff boxes and spittoons are allowed, but modern technology is banned.

With the mind-numbing complexity of legislative packages that are debated in Congress, ready access to computers would be a valuable aid. But only the House has revised its rules to allow the use of iPads, tablets, and iPhones on the floor of its chamber.

The Congressional laptop ban has been challenged in the past. As early as 1997, then newly-elected Senator Mike Enzi (dubbed “Cyber Senator” because of his proud geek status) petitioned for permission to use his laptop computer on the Senate floor so that he could study the issues at hand or communicate with his staff during lengthy debates.

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Congress Saves Super Twiggy the Cartoon Squirrel

By on 12.30.13 | 12:47PM

If Paul Ryan is baffled as to why so many of us prefer the automatic sequester to his new trust-the-appropriators deal, he should read David Fahrenthold's infuriating piece in the Washington Post earlier this week. At issue: the fiscal prudence of animated rodents:

One day this summer, the House of Representatives faced a decision. Should America cut off the money for Super Twiggy, the cartoon squirrel?

At that time, across-the-board budget cuts called sequestration were kicking children out of Head Start and leaving FBI agents without gas money. Congress was still supposed to be looking for smaller, smarter ways to trim the budget — so it could replace that big, dumb cut.

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House Passes “Keep Your Health Plan Act”

By on 11.15.13 | 4:20PM

Today the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 261-157. The tally included 39 ayes from House Democrats.

The executive summary of the bill reads as follows: “H.R. 3350 allows providers to continue to offer in 2014 those health insurance plans in effect in the individual market as of January 1, 2013. The plans will be treated as grandfathered health plans for purposes of Section 1501(b).”

This bill is an immediate response to Barack Obama’s statement yesterday to the millions of Americans who were notified by mail that their existing health care plans were officially canceled. In the address, Obama promised that “[i]nsurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014” because of failures with the website and the rollout in general.

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Feature

Ted Cruz: Politics’ Leading Man

By From the November 2013 issue

Pundits in washington simply cannot decide about Ted Cruz. Does the Texas senator’s demagoguery more resemble that of Joe McCarthy (the New Yorker), or Father Charles Coughlin (MSNBC)? Was his fight to defund Obamacare a political version of General Custer’s last stand, or was it General Pickett’s charge (separate columns, both in the Washington Post)? Will Cruz hold the country hostage like the Taliban (the Daily Beast) or remake his party in his image like Vladimir Lenin (the Atlantic)? Should we imagine him as Don Quixote, the clueless would-be knight tilting at windmills (the New York Times), or as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the 10-story minion of evil from the 1984 film Ghostbusters (the Guardian)? 

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Re: Runyan

By on 11.7.13 | 2:45PM

Full disclosure…I’m a lifelong Eagles fan, who grew up right outside the city, and whose family has held season tickets since the Vet’s turf was known as the “Field of Seams.”

I started rooting for John Runyan when he joined the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2000. He earned every cent of his record contract, anchoring the most prolific offense in franchise history. His durability was legendary…he started a unprecedented 190 consecutive games at offensive tackle. Like Ben, I was thrilled to learn that he had political aspirations and planned to run as a Republican, after a microfracture in his right knee ended his playing career.  

What an incredible disappointment.

With all due respect to Ben—and I totally agree that Washington D.C. is rife with problems—John Runyan clearly wasn’t part of the solution. In fact, I struggle to think of a worse vote for small government, constitutional conservatism than #69.

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The Right Prescription

Sebelius Enters the Eighth Circle of Obamacare

By 10.31.13

In Dante’s Inferno, the Eighth Circle of Hell is reserved for people who deliberately commit fraud. It isn’t surprising, then, that the poet populated this province of Perdition with politicians and their advisors. Interestingly, the latter were rendered especially uncomfortable. Whereas the politicians merely bathed in boiling pitch, their corrupt counselors were condemned to spend eternity in the actual flames. If the expression on her face was any guide, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius felt that she had entered the Eighth Circle of Obamacare as she endured the questions of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

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Just Another Casual Conversation About Voter Fraud

By on 10.26.12 | 9:26AM

When Rep. Jim Moran's, D-Va., son and field director Pat was caught on video discussing the ways a campaign volunteer might commit voter fraud, the coverage focused on his relationship to his father. It makes some sense, given that he is working for his father's campaign, but the conversation about voter fraud had nothing to do with Moran's re-election. It was about turning out the vote for President Obama, outside a party office in Northern Virginia.

Here is the list of questions I arrived at as soon as I heard the audio of the video:

1.) Why is the son of a congressman aware of these kinds of dirty tricks?

2.) Why is the son of a congressman talkingabout these kinds of dirty tricks?

3.) Why is the son of a congressmen talking about these kinds of dirty tricks when his father isn't in any danger of losing reelection?

4.) Why is the son of a congressman talking about these kinds of dirty tricks with a total stranger that is working in his campaign office in Northern Virginia?

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The Plane from Maine Causes Congresswoman Pain

By on 9.23.10 | 2:04PM

Democrat Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine hates the practice of lawmakers who travel on private jets. Despises it, as Maine Watchdog recalls:

According to written remarks delivered before the Subcommittee on the Constitution in 2006, Pingree said: “Most Americans never have and never will fly on a chartered jet, much less a fancy corporate jet complete with wet bar and leather couches. So when members of Congress constantly fly around on corporate jets and pay only the cost of a commercial ticket, it contributes to the corrosive public perception that members of Congress are more like the fat cats of Wall Street than they are like the rest of us.”

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Etheridge Opponent Wants DOJ Suit De-funded

By on 7.7.10 | 3:44PM

Renee Ellmers, the Republican who is challenging Bob "Who are you?" Etheridge in North Carolina's Second District, today called upon her opponent to interrupt the Justice Department's plans to sue the state of Arizona over its immigration law.
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