With the GOP now taking control of the House, but showing signs that they may be backing down from promises made on the campaign trail, tea party groups are warning Republicans that they are watching them:
As Republicans celebrated their new power in Washington yesterday, two prominent Tea Party activists walked the halls of Capitol Hill carrying a message: we’re keeping an eye on you.
Although many freshman lawmakers ran on a Tea Party platform — and enjoyed Tea Party support — Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, the co-founders of the national group, Tea Party Patriots, aren’t taking anything for granted.
They wasted no time expressing their displeasure with Republican leaders who have been signaling that they would not be able to follow through on their pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal budget this year. They were also passing along the sentiment that the vast majority of their members across the country oppose raising the debt ceiling and support spending cuts.
“The piggy bank is empty,” Meckler told ABC News yesterday, and while he and Martin agreed that the government should not default on its loans, he said following through on the promise to significantly trim the budget was “about political will.”
For their part, GOP leaders pushed back on the suggestion that they were breaking a promise on that score.
Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.
The START Treaty was ratified in the Lame Duck session of Congress and hailed by the MSM as a major political win for the Obama Administration. Various Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and John McCain opposed the Treaty saying the Russians would use it to limit the development of our missile defense system. Democrats, led by John Kerry, said the preamble was no cause for concern and would in no way limit missile defense.
Turns out the Democrats are very wrong on that point.
The Russian lawmakers insist that all the chapters of the treaty including the preamble are legally binding, which is a common norm of international law. It is not lawful to take certain provisions and to give them unilateral interpretations like the American senators do, Alexei Arbatov, a member of the Carnegie Scientific Council, says.
We said that the entire treaty, the preamble and the articles have the same judicial force. This is logical and this is right.
The Russians do want to use it to limit our missile defense.
Obama will find it even harder for Republicans to take him at his word now. Nice negotiating, Mr. President.
After defeating a filibuster attempt this morning by a vote of 63 to 33, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” - the Clinton era policy preventing gays from openly serving in the military - passed through the Senate just moments ago by a vote of 65 to 31.
Eight Republicans crossed over to vote for repeal: Scott Brown (MA), Richard Burr (NC), Susan Collins (ME), John Ensign (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH).
A recent survey from Pew Research showed that 58% of Americans support eliminating the out-of-date policy; public support for allowing gays to serve in the military has been over 52% since 1992. The results of a study conducted by the Department of Defense released earlier this month showed broad support among members of the armed forces in repealing DADT with 70% believing it would have little or no effect.
The bill now heads to President Barack Obama, who has been advocating for legislative action to repeal DADT. However, his administration has opposed legal challenges to the policy.
The Obama Administration is claiming progress in Afghanistan and that the timetable for beginning withdrawal in July of next year is on time:
President Obama says the United States is “on track” in Afghanistan. He released a year-end strategy review Thursday that says al Qaeda’s senior leadership is weaker than it’s been since the U.S. invasion in 2001.
In much of the country the Taliban’s momentum has been stopped or reversed. U.S. troops will begin leaving in July as scheduled.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports a year ago, the U.S. was, by many accounts, losing in Afghanistan. Now the commander in chief says the tide of battle has turned.
“We’ve gone on the offensive, targeting the Taliban and its leaders and pushing them out of their strongholds,” says Mr. Obama.
Defense secretary Gates is just back from visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“The sense of progress among those closest to the fight is palpable. The Taliban control far less territory today than they did a year ago,” he says.
Progress is only temporary unless Afghan forces can take over the fighting from the Americans and that will require 18 to 24 months depending on the area. For instance, the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan where the Marines launched an offensive 11 months ago.
“If you look at Marjah in terms of next summer - so six months from now - we think we’re going to be in a pretty good place in Marjah,” says Gates.
That fits the president’s timetable of beginning a withdrawal down from the current 100,000 troops in July 2011 but still leaves the U.S. a long way from meeting its goal of all combat troops out by the end of 2014.
As I’ve said previously, my highest priority is to have the policy that best enables our armed services to do their job,” Senator-Elect Toomey said. “Our civilian and professional military leadership have now spoken and said we should repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I would support a free-standing measure to do so.
According to ABC News, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” looks increasingly likely to happen as 61 Senators have expressed support for a stand-alone bill to rid the military of an outdated policy:
Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown today voiced his support for a stand-alone repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, bringing the bill one vote over the 60-vote threshold that it will need to reach if and when the Senate votes on the measure in the coming weeks.
“Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” said Brown spokesperson Gail Gitcho.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s outdated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy:
The House on Wednesday handily approved a repeal of a ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Republicans who have resisted holding a vote on procedural grounds.
The measure that the House approved, 250 to 175, had originally been part of a broader military policy bill. Last week, the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster of that measure, with only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to advance the bill.
The House bill now goes back to the Senate as a privileged bill, meaning that the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, can call it up immediately. Among Republicans, Senators Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana have indicated they could be open to voting for a repeal.
Reid has been blamed for dropping the ball on repeal of DADT by placing it in a military spending bill. And most Republicans believe that repeal of DADT is inappropriate in a lame duck session, even though they would likely voting against it anyway.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has already said she’s on board. With the tax deal likely to pass today, it’s hard to see the other Republicans listed above not voting for cloture to move repeal to a final vote.
A study released earlier this month showed broad support among members of the armed forces in repealing DADT with 70% believing it would have little or no effect.
Anyone who values the First Amendment ought to oppose the campaign to “get” Assange by any means necessary. In a free society, you can’t just “change the law” to persecute someone you don’t like, and you can’t abuse your position to silence speech you oppose.
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., demanded that Assange be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act. After all, she wrote, the First Amendment isn’t “a license to jeopardize national security,” any more than it’s a license to “yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.” A poor choice of metaphor: It comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1919 opinion in Schenck v. United States, when the Supreme Court allowed the Wilson administration to imprison a man for the crime of publicly arguing that the draft was unconstitutional.
We’ve since done a much better job protecting the First Amendment. In 1971’s New York Times v. United States, the Supreme Court rebuffed the Nixon administration’s attempt to stop the paper from publishing classified documents showing that the government had lied America into the Vietnam War.