Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Carl Levin’
February 26th, 2013 at 4:52 pm
The Shameful Behavior of the Senate, re: Hagel

As I write this, the Senate is voting on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. It is doing so without a single word of debate (other than a quick summation of his resume by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan). So, after voting two weeks ago to reject cloture on the nomination — a move by definition meaning that the opponents want more time for public debate — those same opponents now are not taking the opportunity to, you know, actually debate. No summary arguments will now be recorded for history about why so many found the nomination so troubling. No attempt will be made to lay before the public a full, well-organized, incisive explanation of what the stakes are. All that remains is the impression that senators two weeks ago threw a mere hissy fit, utterly pointless except to show that they could stomp their feet and whine if they darn well wanted to.

Opposing senators two weeks ago asked for more time to examine Hagel’s record. Plenty of new material has emerged since then, much of it serving to reinforce the earlier objections to the nomination. And plenty of other new material, even material intended for eventual release to the public, remains publicly unavailable for now specifically because Mr. Hagel refuses access to it. This, of course, raises questions about what else Mr. Hagel is hiding.

So, having demanded time for new material to emerge, and having seen new material emerge, why are the opponents now declining the opportunity to discuss those materials, and to review the old ones, for the public record, and to try to convince some of their colleagues to withdraw their support? By Senate rules, 30 hours of debate is allowed post-cloture. Cloture was invoked yesterday. Instead of 30 hours, though, the Senate used all of about three minutes, featuring only the aforementioned summary by Sen. Levin.

This is a disgrace. It would be a disgrace if the shoe were on the other foot and it was a Republican nominee who might have to wait a whole extra day or two before taking office. It is a disgrace because it is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility to hold open debate for the sake of the public, whenever weighty issues are to be voted on.

Citizens should be sickened that we have been put through two more weeks of bother, all in the name of further debate, and then denied any serious debate at all.

No wonder the public so often remains in the dark about the real workings of, and reasoning behind the workings of, their elected Congress. No wonder the public holds Congress in such contempt. That’s what contemptuous behavior elicits — and today’s lack of debate was contemptuous indeed.

December 21st, 2009 at 12:09 pm
A Vote that Would Make Rod Blagojevich Blush
Posted by Sam Batkins Print

This morning, the Senate invoked cloture on its scheme for government-run health care.  Under Senate rules, there will now be 30 hours of debate divided equally between the two parties, and then there is a strong possibility that the Senate will pass the legislation.

For Majority Leader Harry Reid, getting to this point was no easy task.  The typical horse trading that takes place on Capitol Hill was on overdrive lately as Leader Reid had to beg, borrow and deal to buy off each cynical Senator.

As much as the media and politicians on the Hill excoriated Governor Rod Blagojevich for selling President Obama’s old Senate seat, buying votes is a common occurrence in the nation’s capital.

As this piece from Politico demonstrates, what happens in Senate chambers typically borders on bribery.

For example:

  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who was once emphatic in his opposition to ObamaCare, got $45 million in federal funds for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska.   Other states were not fortunate enough to have an undecided Senator provide their state with the perks of federal largesse.
  • Independent/Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who was previously opposed to the legislation, was awarded $10 billion in new funding for community health centers.
  • Senator Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) garnered an excise tax carve-out for their states; all other states will be forced to pay the tax.
  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) received perhaps the most persuasive legislative nugget, a $300 million federal gift to Louisiana for Medicaid expansion.

In an attempt to rationalize this border-line legislative bribery, Senator Reid opined, “You’ll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states.  That’s what legislating is all about.  It’s compromise.”

Buying off votes = compromise?  Selling a Senate seat = felony?

November 14th, 2009 at 6:59 pm
Moral Confusion on the Potomac
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In the aftermath of the Obama Justice Department’s (and, let’s be clear, the President’s) decision to bring a group of terrorist figures — including professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — to trial in American courtrooms, liberals in Congress are bending over backwards to tout the administration’s moral superiority.

What’s notable about their talking points is how thin the gruel they’re serving up is.  Consider this gem from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan):

The argument by some that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be treated as a warrior and not as a common criminal misses the point. He wants us to treat him as a warrior. But he should, and will, be treated as the common terrorist criminal that he is.

As Charles Krauthammer noted on last night’s “Special Report,” the phrase “terrorist criminal” is, in and of itself, an oxymoron. But there’s also a bit of a stolen base in Levin’s argument.  Because KSM wants to be treated as a warrior, he shouldn’t be? How about a justice system that operates according to the facts rather than the feelings of those involved? Sure, KSM might want the glories of martyrdom — give it to him.  For every died in the wool jihadi who bids him well as he’s ferried across the River Styx to the land of subjugated virgins, they’ll be another potential Al-Qaeda recruit who learns that terrorism is a short road that ends in the embrace of an American noose.

Also weighing in was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont):

By trying them in our federal courts, we demonstrate to the world that the most powerful nation on earth also trusts its judicial system — a system respected around the world.

That Leahy seems to think that whether or not America has any faith in the judicial process hinges on whether or not we empty out the population of Guantanamo Bay into New York City courtrooms doesn’t speak well of his standing as judiciary chairman.  But are the military tribunals that these men would have otherwise faced not part of our judicial system? Or does he not remember being on the losing end of the vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006?

Politics is supposed to stop at the water’s edge. Unfortunately, these days that water is in the Potomac River.