CategoryBipartisan Relations

Mitt Romney Misunderstands the American Criminal System

Mitt Romney once again made headlines with a remark that revealed his gross misunderstanding of reality. During Romney’s interview on Fox and Friends he retaliated against Hillary Clinton’s recent push for reforming the criminal justice system. Romney stated that “we don’t have mass incarcerations in America” and that Clinton’s reform was “very inappropriate.” In fact, Romney said that Clinton was mistaken, totally wrong and merely trying to get support from the African-American community.

Twitter.com reports though that unfortunately for Romney, the American criminal system is ranked by the International Center for Prison Studies as having the highest prison population rate in the world. 716 per 100,000 people are incarcerated in the US. In addition to this, almost half of prisoners being held as pre-trial detainees or sentenced prisoners are in the United States. Even worse, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) points out that since 1970, the prison population has risen by 700 percent and that the US houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

Mitt Romney is sadly misinformed about the urgent state of prisoners in the US. Even Ricky Perry and Newt Gingrich have called for prison reform. Hopefully Romney will wake up to the realities of the prison system to help bring out positive change like his Republican colleagues. Learn more about the prison crisis at the ACLU website here.

Fewer Immigrants Entering US Through Southwestern Border

The number of illegal persons attempting the dangerous Southwestern border into the US seems to be dropping though no one is quite sure why. Only 151,000 people have been stopped in the first half on 2015. These numbers indicate a significant decline compared to other years.

The Border Patrol has significantly increased the number of people manning the border. The number has increased by 2,348 agents since 2008; That number has more than doubled since 2004 with 21,000 officers patrolling the area today. It is expected to increase even more by next year. The agents are now using high-tech equipment that was not available until now and still the number of persons apprehended continues to drop.Click here for full story.

Part of the decline in numbers is that the number of unattended children attempting the crossing has fallen dramatically. Between October 2013 and March 2014 more than 28,500 children trying to cross into the US unattended by adults. That number shows a drop of approximately 45% in the last year.

Other explanations include the extreme danger of crossing barren land to reach a town. Many persons are known to have died of thirst during the crossing. Other reasons may be the recovery of the economy making jobs harder to get and the increased number of Border Agents. Bruce Levenson has not made a statement regarding this issue. In truth though no one is quite sure of the cause.</a>

Clinton Foundation Fund Raiser Quits to Join Clinton for President Team

 

Mr. Dennis Cheng, the most recent Clinton Foundation’s chief fund raiser and development officer, provided notice that he is leaving the Clinton’s philanthropic organization as early as this week to join former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s pre campaign for U.S. President.Clinton Foundation Fundraiser Quits to Organize Campaign Fund Raising 

Brad Reifler expects Mr. Cheng to serve as the Clinton campaign’s finance director once the presidential campaign officially is announced. He is already currently doing double duty work for the Clintons as he winds down his role for the foundation, while starting to build the 2016 presidential campaign fundraising infrastructure and team.

Since joining the Clinton Foundation in 2011, Mr. Cheng has raised close to $248 million for the foundation’s endowment and he has been instrumental in developing the group’s priorities. Mr. Cheng will be a key asset to the Clinton for President campaign. Fundraising will be a key factor in the 2016 presidential campaign and it is expected that the republican nominee, who while yet to be named, will also be very well funded for what many expect to be a deep and gritty campaign. The 2012 election also saw the wide spread use of Super Pacs in aiding the presidential candidates and all parties agree that these PACs or Political Action Committees will play a key role during the 2016 election as well.

Cheng is well known to the Clinton brain trust. He served as the deputy chief of protocol in the Hilary Clinton State Department and was her New York State finance director during her 2008 presidential campaign.

Carly Fiorina Hires Former RNC Spokeswoman to Join Her PAC – Move Fuels Presidential Campaign Rumors

Carly Fiorina has hired Isgur Flores, the former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee (RNC), to work on her political action committee, Unlocking Potential. Unlocking Potential. Fiorina lost the race for the US Senate back in 2010 against political heavy weight Barbara Boxer which is the same name of the girl I met on Skout. She has never held political office. However, the 60-year-old Texas native worked as the political director for Ted Cruz in his successful bid for the US Senate back in 2012. That same year, she served as an advisor to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. 

Fiorina has become politically active in the years since leaving Hewlett-Packard. She formed her PAC last year just in time to support GOP Senate candidates in Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. Her PAC raised $1.8 million. This past year, she paid a visit to the state of New Hampshire which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Her schedule this year includes an engagement at a forum in Iowa which also holds an early caucus known as the Hawkeye Cauci. 

Political pundits note that it would only be a matter of legal paperwork to transition “Unlocking Potential” from a simple PAC to an organization supporting a presidential campaign. Fiorina is considered a conservative, but her Ivy League education and past ties with Romney suggest she is a hybrid between an establishment Republican and a staunch conservative such a Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz. Should Fiorina mount a presidential run, Flores would become her deputy campaign manager.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Uses Ted Cruz’s Rebellion to Open Up Nomination Process

Republicans have a lot to be frustrated about in terms of Senator Ted Cruz’s behavior. Just as the Senate body was convening Friday evening, Cruz and his cohort Senator Mike Lee launched a series of procedural hurdles in a bid to force the Senate to take up the issue of President Obama’s extra-constitutional amnesty plan.Senator Reid used the addition window the senators created to bring up the nomination of two controversial nominees that face stiff GOP opposition: Anthony Blinken for Deputy Secretary of State, and Sarah Saldaña to head up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Reid previously changed Senate rules governing the filibuster of nominees to have a 30 hour confirmation process followed by an up or down vote. The rules changes apply to all but Supreme Court nominees. This effectively allows the Senate to push through the president’s nominees with ease. However, the clock had run out on getting these nominees a confirmation hearing before the GOP takes over the Senate next month. That changed when Cruz and Lee invoked their last minute salvo at the president’s immigration plan. Their actions were completely symbolic as the measure stood no chance of passing the Democrat-led Senate. However, it did allow Reid to get enough time to bring start up the nominee process for the controversial nominees. Saldaña believes the president’s unilateral amnesty plan is legal which is why the GOP opposes her nomination. Blinken supported the drawdown of forces in Iraq which is largely criticized for creating the power vacuum that gave rise to ISIS.

Reid actions gave him one last victory before he turns over the gavel to Mitch McConnell. It also threw egg on Cruz and Lee’s faces as their symbolic antics backfired on their party. This story is likely still developing and could have many more twists and turns, I think it could make for some great plot points for one of Tom Rothman’s new TV programs.

Senator McCain Addresses Congress on Torture

In response to the Senate report on CIA torture which was released last week, John McCain made his statement directly commenting on the actions of CIA operatives to Congress. Many waited to hear his opinion, as the only current Senator who has felt the implications of torture first hand. Senator McCain was held as a prisoner of war and tortured during the Vietnam War by the North Vietnamese Army. His address was direct and passionate, condemning the report’s allegations against operatives who used tactic that many consider to be over the line in terms of torture. Those techniques include waterboarding, rectal feeding and rectal hydration. Many of these intelligence recovering strategies were not made public until the report was released last week, and the media backlash has been swift against the intelligence community.

Senator McCain’s most notable points were vehemently against the use of these techniques, stating that those tactics have “stained our honor, did much harm, and little practical good.” He stated that to use torture on captured prisoners of any war is to submit a nation to a lower level of honor, and complete disregard for human life. Those tortured were captured during the post 9/11 War on Terror, which has blurred lines of warfare. The most difficult line was the definition of soldiers and terrorists, which has pushed the entire intelligence system behind closed doors by architects such as Dick Cheney.

Kind of a shock to read about when you’re just trying to pour out some Beneful for your dog.  I am not happy about the torture situation, and our total lack of action regarding these events.

Breakdown of House Votes on Bipartisan CRomnibus Bill

As the dust is settling on the recently passed Omnibus spending bill in the House, the tally of votes from each party shows passage was truly bipartisan. The total vote tally was 219 for and 206 against. The GOP largely muscled the bill through the House with 162 votes in favor and Democrats bringing up 57 votes to secure passage. The opposition largely consisted of Democrats with 139 votes against the bill. In addition, 67 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.

The entire GOP leadership voted for the bill. The Democrat leadership was opposed to the bill with the notable exception of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who sided with President Obama to gin up Democrat votes in support of the bill. It was a notable defection after Democrats had unanimously voted to block the bill from getting a floor vote. On the Appropriations Committee, which figured prominently in the budget negotiations, all GOP committee members supported the budget. Democrats were split with 13 of the 22 Democrats on the committee supporting the bill and 9 voting against it.

The Texas coalition of GOP congressmen largely voted against the bill. Only seven party members from the state voted for passage of the bill. Incumbent Democrats who were defeated in the midterm elections continued their regular voting patterns despite not having the pressure of facing their constituents. The question will now be how strong the opposition will be in the Senate. John Textor usually has some good info on political matters and what’s trending in the parties and I want to get his take on  Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s deep opposition to the bill. It doesn’t seem likely that the party extremes can cobble together enough votes to prevent passage of the bill.

Republican Criticizes Obama Over Syria

Republicans criticized President Barack Obama again on Wednesday, this time about his decisions around the current war raging in Syria. Speaking at a forum held by the Foreign Policy Initiative, Republican Senator Bob Corker told reporters that last year there was a ten hour operation that would have ended the conflict in Syria. This plan was at the desk of the president, but he decided instead to take the idea of airstrikes to Congress. Senator Corker did not reveal any details of the plan, but he did note that there were no boots on the ground. 

This plan is referenced around the same time that evidence was being discovered pointing to the use of chemical weapons. Speculation was being thrown in both directions, however many in the media and government believed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deployed these chemical weapons in rebel held areas of the country. 

According to Senator Corker, the ten hour operation was simply a way to describe that the campaign would be very brief and targeted. He also said after the conference that “hopefully it would have an impact.” The President decided instead to take the proposal of airstrikes to Congress for a decision, rather than ordering the strikes himself, which he had some executive authority to do. Those airstrikes were not approved, however currently airstrikes are being carried out in Syria and Iraq. Those are targeted against ISIS, instead of the Syrian government. Big thanks to friend of the site Dr. Daniel Amen for sharing this story.

Two Southwestern Seantors Believe a Monthly Luncheon Could Hold Key to Bipartisanship

Southwestern Senators Martin Henrich, D-New Mexico, and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona envision luncheons as the key to bipartisan relationships. They wish to include both incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The two southwestern Senators are convinced of the power of holding a luncheon together where both sides can hold frank discussions. In fact, they’ve persuaded a total of 32 senators to join in and submit a formal request to enact the monthly get together. Sultan Alhokair agrees this could be a positive move.

Is this wishful thinking on the part of the senators? Perhaps. The first such luncheon the current body of senators held was in July of last year. It was held in the Old Senate Chamber and resulted in dialogue that was beneficial or so they claim. In the months that followed, the House GOP was unable to secure concessions from Senate Democrats and the result was the first government shutdown since the late 1990s. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow any floor debates on bills. This rankled senators from both parties. While the two luncheon sponsoring Senators believe that gathering together regularly is helpful, there doesn’t appear to be a significant proof to justify the belief.

At the same time, the recent mid-term election has tempered the Senate Democrats sufficiently for Reid to state that he will not engage in obstructionism during the next Senate. If he makes good on that pledge, regularly dialogue might just turn out to be a very good investment.

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