Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Colombia: Alvaro Uribe at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Earlier this week, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe testified at the Subcommittee Hearing: Challenges to Democracy in the Western Hemisphere

His complete statement is available online. I found this section particularly interesting,

Triggers of Change
The potential for positive change in growth in the years ahead is not an accident; it is a consequence of the consistency, congruence and sense of urgency that a group of countries have adopted as their policy cornerstone. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay represent 70 per cent of the region’s population and 75% of the regional GDP.

This group of countries has common characteristics that explain their outstanding performance:
The strengthening of Liberal Democracy.
The adoption of an institutional Framework in favor of foreign and national investment.
The construction of a sound and sustainable social safety net.
The expansion of export markets and the commercial integration with the world (through free trade agreements).
A public administration driven by results and the elimination of the byzantine ideological debate between left and right.
A sound macroeconomic administration driven by fiscal and monetary prudence.
Better regulatory environment.
Construction of strategic infrastructure.
The consolidation of an innovation agenda leaded by an improvement in education.
A well capitalized financial sector and the constant expansion of financial services.

Today countries like Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, and Paraguay, as well as most of the Caribbean States, are following this line of behavior. Because of that, the IDB, with Luis Alberto Moreno as its leader, many analysts, statesmen and prestigious publications like The Economist, are optimistic and talk about “The Latin American Decade.”

Countries that opted for a sound evolution of policies have motivated sustainable positive change. Countries that have opted for a “Revolution” to accommodate the institutional order in favor of an ideology have been shown to be ones with instability, limitation of individual liberties, government intervention, lack of confidence from investors, and a growing social polarization with the risks of political turmoil’s [sic].

Read the whole thing.

Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

From the Washington Free Beacon:
House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid
Bipartisan coalition criticizes Argentina for growing closer to Iran

U.S. officials and regional experts warned earlier this week that under the leadership of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has helped Iran bring its terrorist activities to the Western hemisphere.

The lawmakers—including House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), Reps. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Grace Meng (D., N.Y.), Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), and Bill Posey (R., Fla.)—urged Kerry to immediately cut back U.S. support for Argentina.

The matter has assumed “a new level of urgency” given Argentina’s increasing efforts to accommodate Iran, according to the letter.

U.S. officials and independent experts have cited Kirchner’s government for boosting trade with Iran by more than a billion dollars, as well as for allowing Iranian agents to move freely through the region, where they are suspected of smuggling weapons, money, and other goods.

I’ll be extremely surprised if Kerry agrees. At best, the current administration simply doesn’t care. Worse, the State Department comes up with two-page reports soft-pedaling Iran’s threat on Latin America.


Argentina blocks AMIA prosecutor from testifying on Iranian presence in South America

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

The Congressional Committee on Homeland Security is holding hearings today on the Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere (which you can watch at the link).

Alberto Nisman, General Prosecutor of the AMIA Case, was scheduled to testify regarding Iran’s influence in South America; however, the government of Argentina would not allow it.

McCaul, Duncan Question Government of Argentina Blocking Witness from Testifying on Iranian Presence in South America

The letter to President Fernández de Kirchner is available HERE, and the letter from Alberto Nisman to Chairman Michael McCaul is available HERE.

Chairman McCaul on the letter: “Alberto Nisman’s report sheds critical light on how the United States should understand threats to our homeland that emanate from the Iranian regime. His investigation into the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires shows that the Iranian presence in the Western Hemisphere is greater than we imagined. Iranian infiltration within countries in our region presents a clear and present danger to our homeland, as do attempts to silence or downplay this threat, and Mr. Nisman’s testimony should be heard.”

Subcommittee Chairman Duncan on the letter: “Iran’s willingness to conduct operations in the Western Hemisphere and on American soil is clear. In contrast to the U.S. State Department’s recent assessment that Iran’s influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is ‘waning,’ Nisman’s investigation revealed that Iran is deeply embedded within countries in Latin America and is ready to exploit its position to ‘execute terrorist attacks when the Iranian regime decides to do so.’ Argentina’s decision to deny Nisman permission to share his findings publicly sends a troubling message and is deeply disturbing to regional security and U.S. homeland security.”

As you may recall,

In October 2006, Mr. Nisman indicted seven Iranians and one Lebanese-born member of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia for the AMIA murders. Interpol notices for their arrest were issued but none was captured. Then, late last year, the Argentine government of Cristina Kirchner announced that a “truth commission,” to be chosen by Argentina and Iran, would examine the viability of the prosecutor’s case.

To many Argentines, that seemed like letting the fox decide the fate of the chickens. But Mrs. Kirchner forged ahead, getting congress to agree. On May 20 Ahmadinejad approved Iran’s participation on the commission.

Mr. Nisman’s response was to release a mountain of evidence against Tehran into cyberspace for all the world to see.

And now he’s not allowed to testify at the U.S. House Homeland Security hearings on Iran.

Who is Cristina protecting?

UPDATE:
Press Briefing: Iran’s influence in Latin America evolving, not declining, new study reveals


Benghazi roundup

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Hicks’s Full Account of Night of Benghazi Attacks
Full testimony at yesterday’s House of Representative’s subcommittee by Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in the U.S. embassy in Libya:

At Drudge:
Hillary Clinton Accepts Public Service Award In Beverly Hills On Day of Benghazi Hearings…

Susan Rice Honored With ‘Great American’ Award…

White House struggles to respond to new revelations…

Marco Rips Hillary…

MORRIS: Beginning Of End…

KRAUTHAMMER: ‘Where Was Commander in Chief?’

REPORT: CBSNEWS BOSSES IRKED BY CORRESPONDENT’S REPORTING; ‘DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO ADVOCACY’…

At Memeorandum:

Official Offers Account From Libya of Benghazi Attack  —  WASHINGTON — A State Department official presented a minute-by-minute account on Wednesday of what happened during the seige of the diplomatic compound in Benghazi last Sept. 11, offering the first public testimony from an American official …
RELATED:

 Michael Hirsh / NationalJournal.com:

Benghazi: Incompetence, But No Cover-up  —  The hearings deepen the tragedy, but not the scandal.  —  There was tragic incompetence, plainly, in the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attacks, and even possibly some political calculation.  It is a record that may well come …

 John Podhoretz / New York Post:10 minutes ago

Failings of Bam & Hill laid bare  —  After a remarkable House hearing yesterday, we can say this with almost complete certainty: The Obama administration knew perfectly well that last year’s Sept. 11 attack on Americans and American facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist act …
Discussion: PJ Media and Politico

 Tom Bevan / Real Clear Politics:NEW!

A Coverup Laid Bare  —  Thanks to House Republicans, Americans finally got to hear from the State Department officials the Obama administration never wanted to testify.  They are now called “whistleblowers,” but that’s only because their accounts of what really happened in Libya on Sept. 11 …

Yoani Sanchez meets Marco Rubio

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Washington, Yoani Sánchez speaks with senators, Obama aide

Sánchez, 37, met at the White House with presidential advisor for the Western Hemisphere Ricardo Zúñiga. And earlier she had held a meeting with Cuban-American U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

Sánchez wanted to clearly describe the difficulties the internal opposition faces, including the consistent harassment from the Cuban government.

Her agenda included a visit to the State Department in the afternoon to pick up her 2011 International Women of Courage Award, an honor she won in absentia two years ago. The award recognizes her commitment to integrity and the defense of human rights.

She later visited Georgetown University to speak at a forum with students and academics.

Sánchez said the meeting with the U.S. senators was positive and also highlighted the spirit of opening, despite the fact that she has expressed her opposition to the embargo the United States has maintained since 1962.

“We talked about relevant issues, of course, the support, the help and solidarity we can have from abroad,” said Sánchez, founder of the blog Generación Y. She added that there was also a touch of typical Cuban humor.” She said jokingly that she had invited the senators to have coffee “on the 14th floor of my Yugoslav-style building, where I hope someday they can go visit.”

In a different article, the Guardian points out,

Sanchez, whose attempts to travel abroad have been rejected more than 20 times in the past five years, is currently on an 80-day tour across Europe, Latin America and the United States

Yesterday, also in Congress, House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere: Joint Statement on Cuban Government’s Continued Human Rights Abuses, Babalu has the post.


Today’s political broadcast: A real filibuster!

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Live on C-SPAN2, Rand Paul filibustering the Brennan nomination. He started at 11:45AM and is on a roll.

As Emily Zanotti Skyles put it,

There’s nothing better than a straight-up for-reals filibuster. I can’t wait until Rand Paul gets to the Betty Crocker cookbook.

He has a ways to go. Right now he’s talking about privacy rights, and there’s plenty to say on that topic.

UPDATE:
Ted Cruz joins in,


How Bob Menendez sponsored a bill that would have benefited his biggest political donor

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

The UK’s Daily Mail reports,
How Senator Bob Menendez tried to pass a law that would have helped donor whose jet he repeatedly used for trips to the Dominican Republic

he disclosure of the legislation that Menendez wanted to push through- that had incentives for natural gas vehicle conversions- is the latest intersection between the New Jersey Democrat who is the subject of an ethics inquiry on Capitol Hill and the Florida doctor involved in a federal criminal investigation.

Dr. Salomon Melgen invested in Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp. of Weston, Florida, and joined its board of directors in early 2010, according to the company’s chief executive and a former company consultant.

GFS designs, manufactures and sells products to convert diesel-fuel fleets to natural gas. The amount of Melgen’s investment is confidential under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but a 2009 document filed with the SEC showed the company required a minimum individual investment at that time of $51,500.

At the same time, Menendez emerged as a principal supporter of a natural gas bill that would boost tax credits and grants to truck and heavy vehicle fleets that converted to alternative fuels.
The bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, and after it was revived in 2012, the NAT GAS Act failed to win the needed 60 votes to pass.

While the bill was under consideration between 2009 and 2011, the former consultant for GFS spent $220,000 lobbying Menendez’s staff and other congressional and federal officials on the act’s provisions as well as other regulatory issues, according to interviews and Senate records.

Melgen has been a staunch supporter, giving more than $14,000 directly to Menendez since the late 1990s and, through his eye clinic, donating $700,000 last year to a ‘super’ political committee that supported Democratic Senate candidates. The committee, in turn, spent $582,000 to back Menendez’ campaign.

More:
Web of Influence
Ties between Menendez and controversial donor more extensive than previously thought

When did ethnicity become race?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

When liberals want you in the minority plantation:

They’d be attacking him no matter what just because he’s a rising star from the other party, but yes, of course it’s true that a rising star who’s Latino complicates Democratic plans for a permanent majority in a way that some other Republican wouldn’t.

Listen to this incoherent rant, calling Rubio “brownface” for liking Tupac,

The motive for the attacks on Rubio is the threat he may pose as a rising star. The Dems would attack him regardless of why he appears to be a rising star. But there’s no doubt that Rubio’s ethnicity is a factor in the perception that he’s someone whose momentum needs to be slowed.”

It gets more interesting, as Ted Cruz is also under fire:

Cruz is under attack because he’s outdebating Democrats and making the likes of Chuck Hagel look bad. The Dems are used to dealing with Republicans who don’t forcefully take them on in debate or who, though willing to engage, have difficulty making well thought-out arguments (e.g., John McCain, the ipse dixit king).

However, I disagree with Paul Mirengoff when he says that

Cruz is something new in town, and the Dems don’t like it. But their problem with Cruz has no relation, not even an indirect one, to his ethnicity.

I know from experience that liberals will not accept a “minority” that doesn’t toe the victimization line.

After all, that’s their main industry.


SOTU day!

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The President will give his annual State of the Union address tonight. Expect two things:
1. Bogus promises:

(click on image for more)

2. An ‘extremely aggressive and partisan’ speech:

If it weren’t for Woodrow Wilson, I’d be able to watch ‘Vegas’ on Tuesday night. Citizen Kane‘s on TCM tonight, though.

The real scandal in the Menendez story…

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

is the relationship between Miami ophthalmologist Solomon Melgen and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez:

Melgen had reportedly received help from Menendez is the matter of a port-security contract between a company owned by Melgen and the Dominican government. That contract could be worth as much as $50 million a year for 20 years — that is, a total of one billion dollars — except that Dominican officials refuse to honor what they have condemned as the “exorbitant” terms of the contract. Melgen’s financial situation looks shady; he reportedly owes the IRS $11.1 million. But if he could get the U.S. government to pressure the Dominican Republic into honoring that billion-dollar contract, Melgen’s money worries would be over.

Unfortunately for Melgen, however, Matthew Boyle broke the story less than a week before Election Day last fall and, while the mainstream media ignored Boyle’s exclusive at the time, now the potential political ramifications are quite serious. Even if it cannot be proven that Menendez consorted with hookers, underaged or otherwise, during his visits to Melgen’s Caribbean luxury resort, the New Jersey Democrat’s connection to his Florida benefactor is sure to be subjected to intense scrutiny now.

Let’s hope so.

In Santo Domingo, Vinicio Castillo, Melgen’s and Menendez’s Dominican lawyer – who also happens to be Melgen’s cousin – said the accusations are aimed at discrediting Salomon Melgen and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and stopping a contract to X-ray shipments moving through ports in the Dominican Republic.

Castillo called the allegations part of a “diabolical plot” orchestrated to discredit Melgen, who owns a company with a lucrative contract with the Dominican government to provide X-ray machines at ports. The machines would be used to scan shipping containers to look for contraband and illegal drugs.

The contract was originally signed with the Dominican government a decade ago. Two years ago, Melgen bought out the company that had signed the contract.

That contract has raised controversy due to its cost — an estimated $500 million to $1 billion over 20 years. And the machines have not been installed.

Menendez, who has received healthy campaign contributions from the doctor, in a July Senate hearing peppered Obama officials about what they were doing to help U.S. business interests in the Dominican Republic. He specifically mentioned the contract for X-ray equipment at the ports.

Castillo’s father, Vinicio “Vincho” Castillo, the government’s drug czar and Melgen’s uncle, has also spoken about the need for the machines.

Menendez would rather have you believe this is a story that “anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a Web site” concocted.