Maybe you’ve heard about the excesses and overt bias shown by the GOP-dominated House Select Panel that was convened to “investigate” accusations that Planned Parenthood sold researchers fetal tissue obtained from abortions – which would be illegal if the organization were attempting to profit from such sales. Not only were the accusations fully discredited long before the panel was convened, but the antics of its members, especially the Chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, have been so egregious that they have elicited a letter (pdf) of protest from 98 House members addressed to Blackburn and House Speaker Paul Ryan asking that the Panel be disbanded.
As a resident of Missouri, one of the interesting aspects of this letter lies in the signature area. Take a look. Unless I’m missing something, not one of Missouri’s House members, Democratic or Republican, signed the letter.
Such a failure on the part of Republicans is to be expected. Nevertheless, given the criminal aspect of the spurious accusations – which are especially serious since they are being used to influence policy and provide fodder for misleading political attacks – U.S. House Republicans from Missouri, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2), Jason Smith (R-8), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3), Billy Long (R-7) , Sam Graves (R-6) and Vicky Hartzler (R-4), should be held accountable for their partisans’ behavior. If they won’t disavow the ugly political charade enacted by the panel, they deserve our public scorn at the very least.
But, of course, Republicans will be … Republicans. The failure of our Democrats is potentially much worse. For Democrats Lacy Clay Jr. (D-1) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-5) not to sign the letter is inexcusable. You don’t have to be for or against abortion to stand up for honest government or to oppose attacks on legal scientific research that benefits all of us. At the very least, these congressmen ought to be concerned about the waste of taxpayer money that is involved in the panel’s gratuitous activities. Shouldn’t we ask them why their names are missing? Was it because they didn’t get the letter in time? An oversight on the part of staff? Disagreement with the text of the letter? Or was it just plain old political fear? We’re paying for this travesty after all. We deserve to know.
Find below the text of the letter:
We write to you as members of Congress who are deeply concerned with the way the Select Panel is conducting itself, specifically in its recent attempts to investigate how researchers acquire fetal tissue.
As you may know, after more than two months of reviewing the joint inquiry, a grand jury in Texas recently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Instead, the grand jury indicted two of the anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress for felonies committed in the course of making hidden-camera videos. Despite continued and repeated affirmation that Planned Parenthood broke no laws and did nothing wrong, the Select Investigative Panel has continued to endanger healthcare providers and patients with its extreme rhetoric claiming that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts.
Equally concerning are the investigations into scientists doing research that uses fetal tissue. We are particularly concerned by the recent reports that the select panel had issued 11 subpoenas to medical supply companies and laboratories that will seek the names of researchers, gradate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative personnel involved with fetal tissue research. This misuse of subpoena power is clearly aimed at not only stopping the progress of crucial medical research, but personally intimidating the scientists who are engaged in the life-saving work.
As members of Congress who understand the importance of medical research and on behalf of the millions of Americans who are waiting for the cures to Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and the many other diseases awaiting a cure, we feel compelled to condemn these dangerous tactics. this body has spent more than enough taxpayer money doing the bidding of the National Republican Congressional Committee. It is clear that this Panel serves no other purpose than to carry out politically-motivated attacks on Planned Parenthood and it should be dissolved immediately.
We received this:
We understand it can get noisy in Columbia.
April 2016 – candidate campaign finance reports – Attorney General (April 17, 2016)
GOP Planned Parenthood grandstanding will cost Missouri taxpayers (April 20, 2016)
Kurt Schaefer just cost Missouri $8 million dollars (April 25, 2016)
President Obama’s weekly address:
Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
The White House
April 30, 2016
Hi, everybody. It’s now been 45 days since I nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a man of experience, integrity, and unimpeachable qualifications. Judge Garland is someone who Senate Republicans are on record saying is “a man of accomplishment and keen intellect;” a man who’s “honest and capable;” a man whose “reputation is beyond reproach.” Those are all quotes from Republicans in the Senate.
But so far, most Senate Republicans have refused to even meet with Judge Garland. Which means they’ve also refused to do their job and hold a hearing on his nomination, or an up-or-down vote. But they’ve still found time to head home for recess over the next week.
This is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility. Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. For over 40 years, there’s been an average of 67 days between a nomination and a hearing. This time should be no different. This is not about partisan politics – it’s about upholding the institutions that make our democracy work.
There’s a reason Judge Garland has earned the respect of people from both political parties. As a young lawyer, he left a lucrative private firm to work in public service. He went to oversee the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing. For the last 19 years, Judge Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit Court – often called “the Second Highest Court in the Land” – and for the past three years, he’s served as that court’s Chief Judge. In fact, Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. With a brilliant mind, a kind spirit, and a good heart, he has dedicated his life to protecting our rights, and ensuring that the voices of everyday Americans are heard.
So there is absolutely no reason for Republican Senators to deny him the basic courtesy of a hearing and a vote – the same courtesy that has been extended to others. This refusal to treat a Supreme Court nomination with the seriousness it deserves is what makes people so cynical about Washington. That’s why poll after poll shows a majority of Americans think Senate Republicans should do their job; give Judge Garland a hearing; and give Judge Garland a vote.
For all of our political differences, Americans understand that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. And in the middle of a volatile political season, it is more important than ever that we fulfill our duties – in good faith – as public servants. The Supreme Court must remain above partisan politics. I’ve done my job – I nominated someone as qualified as Merrick Garland. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their job. Give Judge Garland a hearing. Give Judge Garland an up-or-down vote. Treat him – and our democracy – with the respect they deserve.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.
Somehow we’re still not convinced that Senator Roy Blunt (r) is inclined to listen.
Originalism in a time of argle-bargle (February 14, 2016)
Jason Kander (D): the Supreme Court and Roy Blunt (r) (February 15, 2016)
Sen. Roy Blunt (r): can’t be bothered to even attempt to appear to do his job (February 23, 2016)
Jason Kander (D) to Roy Blunt (r): #DoYourJob (February 25, 2016)
Tell Roy Blunt to do his job (March 4, 2016)
Sen. Roy Blunt (r) won’t do his job and the sun also rises (March 17, 2016)
Follow the money.
They should rent a blimp. It’d be so appropriate.
Today at the Missouri Ethics Commission, from a campaign committee to a PAC:
C161187 04/29/2016 GREAT ST LOUIS Vote No on the E-Tax 308 E High Street Suite 301 Jefferson City MO 65101 4/28/2016 $668,337.43
Great. It’s a brand new PAC:
C161187: Great St Louis
Committee Type: Political Action
308 East High Street Suite 301
Jefferson City Mo 65101 Established Date: 04/20/2016
The old campaign committee:
C161039: Vote No On The E-Tax
Committee Type: Campaign
308 East High Street Suite 301
Jefferson City Mo 65101 Established Date: 02/18/2016
[….] Termination Date: 04/29/2016
Fancy that, they have the same address.
Where did they get their money?:
C161039 03/02/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Rex Sinquefield 244 Bent Walnut Westphalia MO 65085 Retired 3/1/2016 $618,306.00
C161039 03/04/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Rex Sinquefield 244 Bent Walnut Westphalia MO 65085 Retired 3/3/2016 $452,804.00
C161039 03/07/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Rex Sinquefield 244 Bent Walnut Westphalia MO 65085 Retired 3/7/2016 $395,857.00
C161039 03/09/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Rex Sinquefield 244 Bent Walnut Westphalia MO 65085 Retired 3/8/2016 $346,904.00
C161039 03/11/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Rex Sinquefield 244 Bent Walnut Westphalia MO 65085 Retired 3/10/2016 $319,257.00
C161039 03/30/2016 VOTE NO ON THE E-TAX Missouri Club for Growth PO Box 669 Grover MO 63040 3/29/2016 $5,422.00
Sigh. It seems so, so…grassrootsie.
Campaign Finance: The 0.00000000001% (March 2, 2016)
Campaign Finance: reducing the percentage even more (March 4, 2016)
Campaign Finance: You were expecting anything else? (March 8, 2016)
Campaign Finance: continuing… (March 9, 2016)
Campaign Finance: once more, with feeling (March 11, 2016)
….The 2016 presidential campaign—and the success of Donald Trump on the Republican side—has been a triumph of how easily memory can lose the struggle against forgetting and, therefore, how easily society can lose the struggle against power. There is so much that we have forgotten in this country. We’ve forgotten, over and over again, how easily we can be stampeded into action that is contrary to the national interest and to our own individual self-interest….
Go. Read the whole thing.
Steve Benen remarks today that:
It took a surprisingly long time, but Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) yesterday finally agreed to forgo a donation from disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The Missouri Republican gave the contribution he received from Hastert to a local charity.
Benen may be surprised by Blunt’s reluctance to return Hastert’s money, but I’m not. Actually, I agree with Blunt’s earlier position. If politicians felt they had to give back tainted money, they’d all be broke.
Money from Wall Street? Fossil fuels? Real estate developers? Communications? You name it, and if you look carefully enough, you’ll find lots of dirty deeds behind the dough – and, even worse, there’s usually an intent to influence the politician who is the recipient. Do you really think that money cajoled from ruthless corporate favor seekers is somehow nastier because the person who extracted it sexually abused children? Nobody says Blunt should give back his Montsanto money although it reeks of corruption.
Occasionally you find folks like the Bernie bros (and sisters) who say they won’t vote for a politician, in this case Clinton, because she took Goldman Sachs money or some such. While the desire for purity is understandable, sane folks know that unilateral disarmament is suicide. (And why is it usually the left that is determined to jump off a cliff?) Until the system changes, and the Blunts of the political world are barred from receiving, say, AT&T’s nearly unlimited financial blessings, politics will operate on tainted money.We just have to vote for politicians whom we trust to try to work for change in the way we finance our politicians.
In the meantime, can we call Blunt’s change of heart the Kander effect? You can’t blame him for not wanting to let his unexpectedly strong Democratic challenger use his name in the same sentence as the words “convicted sex offender.”
Yesterday evening in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts the Missouri Democratic Party held conventions with township and county level delegates to elect allocated delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The delegates allocated to each of the two presidential candidates was determined by the vote for those candidates in the March presidential primary within each of those congressional districts. That distribution of delegates does not change no matter who shows up.
An important part of the process is the documentation. Each county level delegate must have proper documentation on file. Each individual seeking to run for an already allocated national delegate slot for a particular candidate must also file (Form F) and must have been vetted by their chosen candidate’s campaign. In the Congressional District Convention the Hillary Clinton county level delegates (they signed a Form B of support) can only vote for the national delegate candidates running for the allocated Hillary Clinton national delegate slots. Likewise, the Bernie Sanders county level delegates can only vote for the national delegate candidates running for the allocated Bernie Sanders national candidate slots. There is no such thing as delegate “flipping” in the Missouri delegate selection process.
Because there several hundred people involved (county level delegates and alternates) the sign in process has to be methodical and accurate. If an elected county level delegate doesn’t show up an elected alternate is assigned to take their place. This takes time. In Warsaw the local Democrats hosted a barbecue (the brownies were top notch) starting two and a half hours before the schedule start of the meeting. It’s an opportunity for individuals running for the national delegate slots to work the room and campaign for votes. At this point everyone was in the same room, regardless of which candidate they supported.
One statewide candidate, one congressional district candidate, and several General Assembly candidates took the opportunity to work the room.
The respective groups of delegates and alternates for the two candidates met in two separate rooms to elect their candidate’s national convention delegates.
With the delegate sign-in, the seating of alternates, and short speeches by candidates for the national delegate slots the process (officially) took two and a half hours.
There’s some explaining to do today for some republicans in the Missouri General Assembly:
. @calebrowden on why he voted against #SJR39:
Rep. Rowden Issues Statement on SJR 39
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – “I have spent most of my adult life in ministry; first as a full time Christian recording artist and second as the Worship Pastor at my church in Columbia. I did not believe SJR 39 was the right way to move our state forward at a time when people in Missouri are looking for leadership on how to fix our roads, grow our economy, and keep our families safe.”
Gee, if only the same philosophy applied to Medicaid expansion.
And to think, Stephen Webber (D) is running for the same seat. Go figure.
Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt made it to the front page of the DailyKos today. He thinks that college student debt is a function of students’ luxurious lifestyles. DailyKos‘ Joan McCarter quotes the Kansas City Star:
… Blunt pointed to the “personal living standard” of students as a significant factor in rising levels of student debt.
“I’m pretty confident over the years that the student expectations for their personal living standards often have increased from where they would have been just a few years ago,” Blunt told Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
I have several nieces who are currently in school or who have recently graduated. Nice to know that their cheap, often substandard apartments and monotonous diets of ramen noodles and more ramen noodles count as as luxurious living. The ramen noodles were, incidentally, often purchased with the proceeds from one or more jobs that were necessary to supplement student aid or scholarships.
Nor were my nieces’ experiences exceptional – a point made by Jason Kander, Blunt’s challenger in this fall’s election, after he actually consulted with MU students and financial aid officers. As for Blunt’s bona fides, McCarter comments that he didn’t offer “any evidence, but he’s confident this is the problem nonetheless.”
You’d think that ol’ Roy would be a little more careful not to show how out of touch with the daily life of his constituents he has become after spending so many years on the Georgetown social circuit where his rich pals go all out to give their little Johnnies and Susies a fancy ride when they take up their legacy spots at Princeton or Yale.