S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday Digest -- Congress

Tonight is the second presidential debate between Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The New York Times' Kathryn Seelye tells us what to watch for. According to Gary Holmes at Neilsen regarding who's watching the debates, "61% of all US households have seen at least one debate."

Tuesday is "Congress Day" at South by Southwest. The United States Senate will meet in regular "pro forma" sessions, even though most Senators have gone home. The House of Representatives is not scheduled to meet. The Senate and House are out of session until January 3, 2009, unless they are called back into session early. Lots of people in Congress will now get to run for re election on their records. As just one example of the abysmal Republican record, Jim Dean from Democracy for America sent me an e-mail about a "Republican Extremist, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe." To quote,

You remember Republican extremist, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. He claims that Global Warming is "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state." He believes the Weather Channel is behind the hoax to attract viewers. And, he's compares environmentalists to "Nazis" and the Environmental Protection Agency to the "Gestapo."

It isn't just the environment that makes Sen. Inhofe an extremist. In 2006, Inhofe was one of only nine senators to vote against banning torture on individuals in U.S. Government custody. In fact, during the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse investigation, he was "outraged by the outrage" over the revelations of abuse. That's right: Sen. Inhofe believes the shock expressed over the crimes was more offensive than the crimes themselves.

Today there is still a lot of fallout associated with the Economic Stabilization Act. For many legislators their votes were the biggest of their careers for both Democrats and Republicans. AOL Cityguide's "VoteNote" October 6, 2008, for Texas' 12th Congressional District, reported that my Texas Senators and my Representatives all voted "Yes" on the following bills: Senate: U.S.-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act; Senate: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008; House: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Representative Christopher Shays sent me an e-mail about his views on the so-called bailout bill. To quote,

The bottom line is this legislation is a short-term solution to address a longer-term problem. Those of us back next Congress, and I make no assumptions about my own election, truly have our work cut out for us.

. . . This crisis requires all of us to put our country first, and our ideology and partisanship aside. We need to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and then go back home and face the voters. Those of us who are fortunate enough to return will come back, roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to help our country grow and prosper again.

Monday spelled trouble for some Republicans. Senator Ted Stevens' trial was going on in Alaska. According to an LA Times story, "FBI tapes catch Sen. Ted Stevens with his guard down." Also, Rep. Henry Waxman's House Government Oversight Committee held a hearing on what happened to Lehman Brothers. It was fascinating to watch the former CEO, Richard Fuld, testify. To me he came across as detached, cold, and mostly unresponsive. And there is probably an explanation for that because he may be in some trouble. The FBI is investigating. The story "Did Lehman Bros. Lie to Investors?" is by Eric Umansky in the 10/6/08 ProPublica. To quote:

Lehman's chief executive, Richard Fuld Jr., will be testifying this morning at a congressional hearing, and there's no shortage of potentially juicy lines of inquiry.

. . . Boosterism is one thing. Fudging the books is another. According to the Journal, two Wall Street execs "who reviewed Lehman real-estate documents" concluded that the "firm's real-estate valuations are roughly 35 percent higher than they should be."

. . . In his prepared statement (PDF) for the hearing today, former Lehman CEO Fuld blamed a "litany of destabilizing factors" for the firm's downfall. "In the end, despite all our efforts, we were overwhelmed." We might just be getting a better picture of exactly what those factors were.

Some friends from the blogosphere weighed in on the crisis of the last couple of weeks. Here is what they said about some of the issues that emerged:

Just one last bit of irony for the day: Think Progress was absolutely prescient about the economic situation earlier this year, in April, on the 15th and also on April 14,2008.

Legislative related references from Congressional Quarterly - Behind the Lines (10/6/08), by David C. Morrison. To quote a few pertinent items:

“Is al Qaeda really sophisticated enough to attempt to Richard Clarke explores in U.S. News, suggesting: “At the very least, expect another Halloween video from the scary man in the cave.” A new study examines the electorate’s current perceptions of the political candidates and parties on homeland security issues and finds none of them boasting a clear edge on the issue, Homeland Security Today’s Phil Leggiere relates. . . . Congress last week passed legislation to force DHS to lift restrictions on the use of grants to fund state and local intel fusion centers, Federal Computer Week’s Ben Bain reports.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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