Jason Pye

Recent Posts From Jason Pye

Indefinite detention not the only problem with NDAA

Much has been made over the “indefinite detention” language included in the National Defense Authorization Act. As Ron noted earlier, an effort to fix the legislation — the Amash-Smith Amendment — was defeated by the House, which opted for much less clear language.

But the failure to get rid of the indefinite detention provision isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. The NDAA for FY 2013 includes a provision, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who sponsored the language to axe the indefinite detention provision, that would allow for taxpayer-funded propaganda to influence Americans:

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

Ted Cruz closes in on David Dewhurst

Polls in Texas have recently showed that Ted Cruz, who is being supported by conservative and Tea Party groups, is closing in on David Dewhurst, the establishment pick in the race to fill the seat being left open by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). But a new poll from the University of Texas shows that Dewhurst’s lead over Cruz is now in single-digits and headed to a runoff:

If the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate were held today, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.

When asked whom they would support if the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for U.S. Senator were held today, 40 percent of GOP primary voters named Dewhurst, followed by Cruz at 28 percent, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert at 15 percent. The leading candidate would need at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election on July 31.
[…]
Dewhurst’s lead was even narrower among likely voters, leading Cruz 40 to 31 percent, with Leppert polling at 17 percent. Likely voters are defined by the survey as those who indicate an interest in politics and report voting in most elections (274 respondents in the survey sample said they intended to vote in the GOP primary and were also identified as likely voters).
[…]
Daron Shaw, professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll, said Cruz has been able to position himself to the right of the lieutenant governor for a May 29 Republican primary where that’s a big advantage — and he’s done that in a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.

Obama doubles down on Bain Capital attacks

Last week, I noted that the President Barack Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney over Bain Capital may well backfire given his own failures on the economy — everything from four straight years of trillion dollar budget deficits, the every increasing national debt, and a still-high unemployment rate.

However, during a press conference yesterday, President Obama said that Romney’s time at Bain Capital will be a significant part of the narrative during the campaigndoubling down on rhetoric:

President Obama on Monday declined to back down from his campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital despite criticism from some Democrats.

Asked at a press conference in Chicago about criticism from Newark Mayor Cory Booker regarding his campaign’s attacks on Romney’s work in private equity, Obama defended the tactic and said it’s fair game in a race where Romney has played up his business credentials.

“This is not a distraction,” Obama said. “This is what this campaign is going to be about.”

“If the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining,” Obama said.

Tom McClintock becomes a leader on budget issues

Though this is only his first term in Congress, Rep. Tom McClintock has, according to The Hill, become the leader of the budget hawks in the House Republican caucus, who are fighting to end the endless river of red ink flowing from Washington:

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) has emerged as a leader of deficit hardliners in the House and become a thorn in the side of GOP leaders.

While McClintock does not criticize other Republicans by name, he is clearly dissatisfied with the amount of spending cuts House Republicans have achieved since winning the majority in 2010.

“This government doesn’t spend money unless the House authorizes it. We are more than a year into a period where we have controlled the House and we are a trillion dollars deeper in debt,” he told The Hill in an interview. “The buck starts here. We can’t blame the president.”

McClintock, who has been in the House since 2008, led the 93-member defection against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank this month with an impassioned floor speech.

“Legitimate companies have plenty of access to private capital, they don’t need these subsidies. The illegitimate ones don’t need to be propped up with the hard-earned dollars of working taxpayers,” McClintock said on the floor.

The Ex-Im bill was negotiated by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who supports ending export credits but compromised with Democrats to extend the bank for three more years. In one concession won by Cantor, the bill for the first time orders the administration to begin international talks to end export financing.

That wasn’t enough to sway McClintock, however. He argued that, although the bank turns a profit, it could one day blow up in taxpayers’ faces like Fannie Mae.

Five issues that will not win the 2012 election

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.

Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.

Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.

More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.

Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.

Reason debunks lies about Scott Walker

If you listen to his critics, you’d think that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a far-right conservative that has slashed spending and taxes to near apocalyptic levels. Of course, wth a recall election coming early next month in Wisconsin thanks to Big Labor’s outrage at reforms to the state’s collective bargaining agreement, this sort of rhetoric is expected. But Reason has pieced together a view debunking some of the oft-repeated lies about Gov. Scott Walker’s fiscal conservatism:

The Hypocrisy of Common Cause

On Wednesdays, I noted that Common Cause has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the filibuster, a procedural tactic used in the Senate to stall legislation, is unconstitutional. This lawsuit was filed despite the fact that Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution allows each chamber of Congress the right to craft its own rules.

Despite that glaring fact, Politico quoted Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel for Common Cause, saying, “[The Senate] cannot adopt their own rules, and that’s an issue we think the courts should settle.” It’s a political point more than a lawsuit that they hope will result in any actual change in Senate rules.

But here is the kicker, and perhaps the most important point about Common Cause. Doug Mataconis notes that, when the filibuster was threatened by Senate Republicans over judicial nominees seven years, Common Cause defended use of the tactic:

Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.

“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”

Andrew Sullivan: Tea Party opposes Obama because he’s black

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned liberal, wrote a post criticising the Tea Party movement for standing by while George W. Bush broke the bank only to protest Barack Obama for his spending measures. According to Sullivan, this isn’t based on disagreement with Obama for his big spending ways, rather the fact that he is black:

[T[he Tea Party, utterly indifferent to massive spending in good times by a Republican, had a conniption at a black Democrat’s modest measures to limit the worst downturn since the 1930s. Conniption isn’t really he right word: this was a cultural and political panic in the face of a president who was advocating what were only recently Republican policies: tax cuts, Romneycare on a national level, cap-and-trade, a W-style immigration reform, and a relentless war on Jihadism. They reached back to a time, when there were only three kinds of Americans - native, white and slaves. They even wore powdered wigs.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that conservative opposition to immigration reform is based on more than public policy, I completely disagree that the Tea Party movement opposes Obama’s policies just because he is black.

I don’t disagree that Bush was a fiscal nightmare, and it’s my belief that he set the Republican Party back several years. And shortly after the Tea Party movement started in early 2009, I criticized them for not calling out Bush’s spending spree.

Senate Democrats persecute Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin

Earlier this week it was reported that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin had renounced his United States citizenship rather than pay taxes on his share of the revenues of Facebook going public, saving him upwards of $100 million in capital gains taxes. The move raises eyebrows, it is becoming increasingly more popular rather than to face the higher tax burden in the United States, though Saverin, who was born Brazil, will owe some money, what is being referred to as an “exit tax.”

But some Senate Democrats aren’t willing to let Saverin off that easy. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would target Saverin and other people who renounce their citizenship to leave the United States for more tax friendly confines:

Presuming that Saverin moved to avoid paying taxes, Schumer and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Thursday unveiled legislation to stop what they called a “despicable trend.”

Under their legislation, any American who renounces his or her citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes will be punished in two ways: They will be barred from re-entering the U.S., and their future investments in the U.S. will be taxed at a 30 percent rate.

Taking advantage of every Facebook one-liner available, Schumer said of Saverin, “Sen. Casey and I have a status update for him: Pay your taxes in full, or don’t ever try to visit the U.S. again.”

Is another Keith Judd moment brewing for Obama?

Last week, President Barack Obama was the subject of unwelcome news stories after a convicted felon received over 40% of the vote against him in the West Virginia Democratic Primary.

And while Gallup reported this week that Democrats are happier with their nominee than Republicans, tell that to John Wolfe, who may give Obama a run for his money next week in Arkansas:

You haven’t heard of John Wolfe because the obscure Democratic candidate for president has raised less than $500, can’t afford radio or TV ads and hasn’t gotten much press.

Yet miraculously, a poll released this week shows Wolfe trailing President Barack Obama in the Arkansas Democratic primary — occurring next week — by just seven points.

In an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, Wolfe described his barebones campaign, saying he thinks the shocking poll numbers in Arkansas are the result of an anybody-but-Obama attitude. He’s optimistic he could pull off an upset.

“I think there’s a chance,” said Wolfe, who is the only person appearing on the Democratic ballot for president with Obama in Arkansas.
[…]
Wolfe said he’s campaigned mostly by handing out fliers, which he emails to supporters who copy and distribute them. The fliers have his office and cell phone number on them.

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