Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Robert Menendez and the missing ho’s UPDATED

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Now that Senator Robert Menendez’s friend and major campaign donor Dr. Salomon Melgen is under investigation for Medicare fraud, two of the prostitutes they hired have been missing for several months:
Following the trail of Sen. Robert Menendez scandal leads to dead end in Dominican Republic
Women named by tipster exist and were there — but not anymore
.

Maybe they’re hiding at the Doll Palace, maybe not.

As you can see from the article, at least one tipster is not anonymous.

Meanwhile, blame Cuba

The bigger issue, which I pointed out months ago, is whether he violated Senate rules by accepting two round-trip flights to the Dominican Republican from Melgen. Menendez goes back a long way,

Menendez, who scaled the political ladder in Hudson County, a Democratic bastion long known for its flexible ethics, is no stranger to controversy.

In 2007, Chris Christie, who at the time was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, began a federal investigation of Menendez over potential conflicts of interests with recipients of government financing.

The Star-Ledger reported then that Menendez had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent for a building he owned in Union City from the North Hudson Community Action Corp., an antipoverty group. Menendez had helped the group win millions of dollars in federal funding.

But no charges were filed, and Menendez ultimately received a rare clearance letter from the U.S. attorney’s office informing him that the case was being closed.

Last May, Joseph Bigica, a major supporter of Menendez, pleaded guilty to using straw donors to funnel nearly $100,000 in illegal contributions to the senator’s campaign, which was not accused of any wrongdoing. It acknowledged having received the donation, but said it had been a victim in the case.

A campaign official said they planned to give the money to charity.

Bigica, of Franklin Lakes, admitted that from April 2005 to May 2009 he had conspired to make the illegal contributions to the campaign committee of an unidentified candidate for federal office. Officials did not identify the candidate, but campaign finance records show the donations went to Menendez.

Ah, the scent of New Jersey politics…and now he’s chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

UPDATE:
Stacy checks out the facts, and also points out (emphasis added)

This is highly interesting, because on Jan. 4, Menendez paid back Dr. Melgen $58,500 for three flights, but this (alleged) Easter weekend trip wasn’t one of those, and it was during the Easter weekend trip that one of the sex parties (allegedly) took place.

And this:

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Billion With a ‘B’: Did Menendez Provide Special Favors to HookerGate Donor? “Follow the money – if Melgen had a billion-dollar contract at stake, his ‘friendship’ with Senator Menendez was obviously more than a mere social acquaintance, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it was illegal for Menendez to pressure the administration to help Melgen enforce his Dominican port security contract. But how and why does a Florida opthamologist become an international port-security mogul?”


Video starts below the fold:
(more…)

“What difference does it make?”

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The histrionic, hysterical Secretary of State, wearing men’s eyeglass frames yesterday:

What a disgrace:

Hillary Clinton is ending her tenure as secretary of state in fiery fashion. “You really get the sense that [Mrs.] Clinton barely managed to restrain herself from dropping an F-bomb there,” remarks New York magazine’s Dan Amira. He refers to an exchange between the secretary and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing this morning.

Johnson pressed her about the administration’s conflicting explanations for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the ambassador and three other Americans. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” said the secretary snappishly to the senator. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

So it’s “our job to figure out what happened” but it doesn’t make a difference what happened? Huh? What would we do without rhetorical questions? We suppose we’d answer them, as Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin does:

The answer to her question is clear. An administration that sought, for political purposes, to give the American people the idea that al-Qaeda had been “decimated” and was effectively out of commission had a clear motive during a presidential campaign to mislead the public about Benghazi. The fact that questions are still unanswered about this crime and that Clinton and President Obama seem more interested in burying this story along with the four Americans that died is an outrage that won’t be forgotten.

“What difference does it make?” if there were no protests in Benghazi,

Well, gosh, I can think of a few reasons why it matters. First, it mattered enough for the Obama administration to send Susan Rice to five different Sunday talk shows to insist that the sacking was a spontaneous demonstration of anger over a months-old YouTube video, while saying that there was “no evidence” that it was a terrorist attack. On one of those appearances, the president of Libya told US audiences the exact opposite — that it was the work of terrorists and that they had a pretty good idea of who they were. If it didn’t matter, what was Susan Rice doing when she tried pushing that meme, which the White House had to abandon within days as leaks within State and CIA made plain that there was no demonstration?

It also matters because Barack Obama at the time had been bragging about crippling al-Qaeda while on the campaign trail. That false narrative made it seem as though State and our intel community couldn’t have possibly known that the sacking would have occurred, and got blindsided by a grassroots reaction to the video. Instead, it turned out to be a planned terrorist action about which the US embassy in Libya had warned State for months, repeatedly requesting more security.

There’s also the matter of Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya and his undeclared war against Moammar Qaddafi. His actions, and that of NATO in following his initial lead, decapitated the ruthless regime that at least was keeping a lid on terrorist networks in eastern Libya. The rise of those networks in the Benghazi region should have been a predictable outcome from the power vacuum the US/NATO campaign left in the region, which resulted in the ability to conduct this attack. That also reflects on the decision to remove the military security at the consulate even with the deteriorating environment very clear to anyone paying attention. That also matters because of how the transfer of weapons to the militias in that US/NATO effort and the resultant power vacuum has destabilized Mali and potentially a wide swath of North Africa.

So it matters because of credibility.

And yes, “What difference does it make?” is the attitude of someone who feels entitled to their high place.

“If it weren’t for low integrity they’d have no integrity at all.”

And,
Let the 2016 campaign begin,

Do you think there’s any coincidence in the fact that her campaign debt was paid off and her appearance before the joint committee today to talk about the guy in Benghazi?


America’s crazy uncle welcomes the 113th Congress

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

From the Vice-President and Court Jester in One, the inappropriate comment fest,

“You are so pretty. God love you, holy mackerel.”
This aside was to a brunette in a red dress, apparently there with bachelor Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

“Spread your legs — you’re gonna be frisked!”


Our taxes just went up; O heads to Hawaii

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Feel the squeeze,

According to the bill, Americans at all income levels would see a two-percentage-point jump in the employee portion of the Social Security tax. It will return to 6.2% in 2013 after a stimulus rate of 4.2% expires.

And then there are the Obamacare tax increases,

As for small business, the overall tax increase this year is substantial. The new listed top rate of 39.6% doesn’t include the phaseout of deductions that will take the actual rate to 41% or so for many taxpayers. Add the ObamaCare surtaxes on investment income (3.8%) and Medicare (0.9%), as well as the current Medicare tax of 1.45% (employee share), and the real top marginal tax rate on a dollar of investment income from a bank savings or money-market account will be about 46%. Throw in state taxes, and the marginal rates in many places will be in the mid-50%-or-higher-range.

Meanwhile, even as Democrats claim these tax rates won’t matter to investment, Senators stuffed their bill full of tax subsidies for special business interests. The wind tax credit survived (cost: $12.1 billion), and so did the tax breaks for cellulosic ethanol ($59 million) and the impoverished producers of Hollywood ($248 million).

But I digress. The fiscal cliff carries $4 trillion price tag over next decade. Here are 6 Things You Won’t Believe That Are In The Fiscal Cliff Bill That The Senate Passed At 2 AM While Most Americans Were Drunk. So you’re OK if you’re in the Puerto Rican rum, asparagus, or biodiesel businesses.

The rest of us can rejoice in the fact that we’re paying for Obama’s $7million Hawaiian vacation, to which he returned less than an hour after Congress and the White House resolved the fiscal cliff.

Budgets are for little people.

Related:
HERE IT IS: Full Text Of The 157 Page Bill To Avert The Fiscal Cliff

UPDATE,
FISCAL CLIFF DEAL: $1 IN SPENDING CUTS FOR EVERY $41 IN TAX INCREASES


Mexico: No Iran or Hezbollah here

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Last week the US House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management issued a report updating its 2006 A Line in the Sand findings.

The new report (pdf file), A LINE IN THE SAND: COUNTERING CRIME,
VIOLENCE AND TERROR AT THE SOUTHWEST BORDER
found (emphasis added):

 Although the United States tightened security at airports and land ports of entry in thewake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S.-Mexico border remains an obvious weak link in the chain.

 Despite the near doubling of Border Patrol personnel, the Government Accountability Office found that only 44 percent of the Southwest border was under operational control.

 In 2012, National Guard presence on the Southwest border was reduced to 300 soldiers.

 Since October 2008, 138 Customs and Border Protection officers or agents have been arrested or indicted on corruption related charges.

 The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that there have been 58 incidents of shots fired at Texas lawmen by Mexican cartel operatives since 2009.

 Experts believe the Southwest border has become the great threat of terrorist infiltration into the United States.

 Iran and Hezbollah have a growing presence in Latin America.

 Hezbollah has a significant presence in the United States that could be utilized in terror attacks intended to deter U.S. efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

 Latin America has become a money laundering and major fundraising center for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s relationship with Mexican drug cartels, which control secured smuggling routes into the United States, is documented as early as 2005.

If Iran’s assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, D.C. had been successful, Iran’s Qods Force intended to use the Los Zetas drug cartel for other attacks in the future.

Long-term readers of my blog are certainly not surprised by this information, as I have been blogging on the subject for years. Neither would the readers of Jon Perdue’s excellent book, The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism.

The Mexican government, however, strongly denies the report’s findings: Mexico disputes House GOP report alleging Iran, Hezbollah are using Mexican drug cartels

A spokesman for Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, told The Daily Caller his country’s government disputes a recent House GOP report alleging that Iranian and Hezbollah terror operatives are using Mexican drug cartels as a conduit to infiltrate the United States.

As Matthew Boyle points out, on October 11 last year, two men were arrested in New York and charged with taking part in an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. You can read the full details of the plot in the Department of Justice’s report.

While its government denies these findings, Mexico is the deadliest country on earth for journalists.

Also last week, the head of Mexico’s organized crime unit stepped down on Thursday, just weeks after announcing that members of his team had been charged with having links to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.


Benghazi: Focus, focus, focus

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012


Back in the olden days García Marquez managed to annoy Fidel Castro by writing a story called No One Writes to the Colonel. Today we can amuse ourselves by reading about the General’s 30,000 emails; General John Allen, that is, not Gen. Petraeus.

Are You Effing Kidding Me With This Right Now?

Jill Kelley, the woman who was (allegedly) threatened by Gen. Petraeus’s squeeze Paula Broadwell and who (apparently) started the FBI investigation that led to Petraeus’ ouster, who went to the FBI for help after the threats and then (allegedly) had a relationship with the FBI agent in charge of her own case, who (allegedly) sent her shirtless pics of himself, also (apparently, allegedly) had “compromising” communications with Gen. John Allen, the Big Damn Commander of our war effort in Afghanistan.

Good grief. America’s national security has been entrusted to the pledge committee at Delta Tau Chi.

But wait, the farcical plot thickens,

if you were thinking that what the story of the under-the-desk CIA director, the bunny-boiling biographer, the email-crazed Afghanistan commander, the CentCom socialite, and the shirtless FBI agent lacked was a “psychologically unstable twin sister” . . .

Your wish has been granted.


What’s with the beads?

Yes, after all this it may be hard to focus, focus, focus on the real questions,

The Petraeus scandal is a sideshow. Those of us who want to know what happened and why in Benghazi need to focus. Keep asking the basic questions. I have provided some of them and you can peruse the archive log for the many pieces on Benghazi.

Why was it Rice and not Clinton who appeared before the press? Who wrote the talking points for Ambassador Rice? What was the facility in Benghazi? If it was important, why wasn’t it protected? Why was the Ambassador there on 9/11? What was the meeting with the Turkish official about? Were we “walking guns” to Syria’s rebels? If so, is there any indication of Iranian or Syrian involvement in the attack? What did Secretary Clinton know and when? What did she do about it? What did Petraeus know and when? What did he do about it? What did Panetta know and when? What did he do about it? What did President Obama know and when? What did he tell the military, et al, to do? What did they do?

And THAT’s the real story.

Eric Holder Knew About Petraeus Probe Months Ago.

Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi Attack

In late October, Petraeus traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

While in Tripoli, he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11 when the attack occurred.

The Libya stop was part of a six nation trip to the region. Petraeus intended the review as a way to prepare for his upcoming testimony before Congress on Benghazi.

“He was looking forward to testifying,” a Petraeus friend told ABC News. “He wanted to be fully prepared.”

He’s ready; have him testify before Congress.

UPDATE,
Oh, fer cryin’ out loud, Why in God’s name does Angelina Jolie get photographed on the seventh-floor office of the CIA?

Linked by The Other McCain. Thank you!

Bipartisan!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Obama budget defeated 99-0 in Senate

President Obama’s budget suffered a second embarrassing defeat Wednesday, when senators voted 99-0 to reject it.

Coupled with the House’s rejection in March, 414-0, that means Mr. Obama’s budget has failed to win a single vote in support this year.

Not one Democrat vote for it.

The Democrats have not passed a budget in 3 years.

But Jay Carney calls it “a Republican gimmick”,

Unanimous rejection, Jay. No gimmick.

Hoyer: Budget? We don’t need no steekeen budget!

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Hoyer: ‘The Fact Is You Don’t Need a Budget’

At a briefing with journalists on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Hoyer was asked, “Mr. Hoyer, around the same time of the State of the Union [on Jan. 24], I think it was the same day, Republicans were trying to hit Senate Democrats for 1,000 days without passing a budget, and then you talk about this milestone today, 400 days without a jobs bill in the Republican House. But then on Friday [Democratic Senator Harry] Reid said that he didn’t think they needed to bring a budget to the floor this year [and that] the Budget Control Act can serve as a guideline.”

Hoyer said: “What does the budget do? The budget does one thing and really only one thing: It sets the parameters of spending and discretionary caps. Other than that, the Appropriations committee are not bound by the Budget committee’s priorities.”

He continued: “The fact is, you don’t need a budget. We can adopt appropriations bills. We can adopt authorization policies without a budget. We already have an agreed-upon cap on spending.”

Don’t expect the Dems to agree to anything resembling a budget this year, either. Allahpundit makes the point,

Why waste time developing a strategy for fiscal sustainability when we can just muddle along with piecemeal appropriations unto death? Carney’s argument is slightly better: The debt-ceiling deal last August has already provided some budgetary parameters via the automatic cuts that went into effect once the Super Committee failed. And of course Obama will offer his own feeble budget proposal which Reid will dutifully support, so why bother making Senate Democrats come up with a plan of their own when it’ll inevitably fail in the House? Remember, Congress can’t even reach a deal on penny-ante matters like the payroll tax holiday; nothing will break the logjam on grander budgetary priorities except electoral clarity in the fall. As such, budget proposals these days are really just oppo material for the other team’s campaign: No doubt The One would happily decline to propose one of his own if he thought the RNC’s ad team would let him get away with it. So instead he’ll do what he did last year, i.e. introduce a plan that’s so shamefully irresponsible on the core issue of entitlements that even original Obama superfan Andrew Sullivan will be left shaking his head. And Reid will cheer him all the way.

A commenter wonders: If it’s all about gridlock, why didn’t Democrats pass a budget in 2010 when they still controlled both chambers? Answer: Because they’re gutless, of course. 2010 was an election year and the country was in a lather about spending. If they had passed a gargantuan new Democratic budget, the GOP would have destroyed them over it. If they had passed a budget that dramatically cut spending, their base would have destroyed them over it. No doubt they’d pass nothing again this year if they still controlled the House. But for the moment, because of gridlock, the question is moot. Nothing’s getting passed. Hence the 10 percent figure.

The problem is uncertainty: As Bernake states, “Is uncertainty a negative for growth? I think it is, because firms like to have certainty, like to be able to plan…and we need to make regulations as clear and as effective as possible.”

Which is exactly what we won’t be getting, this year at leasts.

28854

Stop SOPA

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Via Instapundit,, tell your Congress representative how you feel about SOPA.

SOPA blackout: Bills lose three co-sponsors amid protests

28618

Recess appointments while Congress is not in recess

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Yesterday John Hinderaker noted,

President Obama took his war against Congress to a new level, announcing four “recess appointments” when the Senate was not, in fact, in recess. The appointees included Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three new members of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Senate was in pro forma session yesterday, so there is no recess and Obama’s appointments are invalid by any historical or legal–according to his own Department of Justice–standard.

Roger Pilon explains (h/t Instapundit, emphasis added),

All of Obama’s appointments yesterday are illegal under the Constitution. And, in addition, as too little noted by the media, his appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is legally futile. Under the plain language of the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, Cordray will have no authority whatsoever.

Yesterday, Professors John Yoo and Richard Epstein, writing separately, made it crystal clear that the president, under Article II, section 2, may make temporary recess appointments, but only when the Senate is in recess. Add in Article I, section 5, and it’s plain that the Senate is presently not in recess, just as it wasn’t under Senate Democrats when George W. Bush wanted to make recess appointments. The difference here is that Bush respected those constitutional provisions while Obama — never a constitutional law professor but only a part-time instructor – ignores them as politically inconvenient. Attempts by Obama’s apologists to say the Senate is not in session are pure sophistry and, in the case of Harry Reid, rank hypocrisy, as this morning’s Wall Street Journal brings out.

But clear beyond the slightest doubt is the language of the statute (itself unconstitutional on any number of grounds not relevant here). As my colleague Mark Calabria wrote yesterday, “authorities under the Act remain with the Treasury Secretary until the Director is ‘confirmed by the Senate.’”  A recess appointment, even if it were constitutional, is not a Senate confirmation. There is simply no wiggle room in that language that gives Cordray any authority, as litigation will soon make plain.

So what is this? It’s politics — Chicago politics, plain and simple.

Jonathan Chait thinks The Grand Strategy Behind Obama’s Recess Appointment is to trap Mitt Romney. Richard Fernandez has something to say about that,

If Obama is risking a constitutional crisis and going through all this trouble to trap Mitt Romney because he fears a “return to the Bush era” then his thought processes are truly irrelevant to events taking place all around him. It is events themselves which are destroying the ideology and goals of Hope and Change. It is shredding the last vestiges of his Middle Eastern policy. It is making a mockery of his Green Energy platform. It is repudiating his perfection of the New Deal. It is doing all of these in the strongest possible way and Mitt Romney has nothing to do with it.

I go for the simpler explanation: The reason Obama does this is because he thinks he can get away with it.

UPDATE,
Smitty has an Open Letter To Senators Warner & Webb, and points out that the Cordray appointment opens the door to large scale mortgage re-financing.

28464