Friday, January 20, 2017

Please speak

To Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell

You heard the President's inaugural address and its pledge to transfer power from Washington DC and give it back to the American people.


Will you please speak in response to what the President said?

Please post on your website (or somewhere else).

Please dialogue with your Alabama citizens about what the President said, about your response, and about questions your Alabama citizens have for you about the same.

Thank you.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chaffetz letter

To Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell:

My opinion is that the Chaffetz letter situation presages Congress and Trump getting bogged down bigly.

The letter was sent after the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, announced at a press conference on Wednesday that President-elect Trump’s “fix” to his ethics and emoluments clause problems didn’t fix anything. In response, Chaffetz sent Shaub a letter accusing him of unprofessionally blurring politics and ethics guidance, and demanding that Shaub make himself available for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to “interview” him. The letter slams Shaub for attempting to engage in “public relations” and raises at the end of the letter Congress’s need to reauthorize the OGE.

It is fairly certain the controversy over the Trump organization is not going to end anytime soon, and the only question is how big a problem it will become and how much it results in Trump being hampered in implementing his policies and programs.

If Trump gets bogged down, it means Congress will be bogged down too and look bad, and you, the Alabama delegation in DC, will look bad.

You are far better equipped than I to evaluate the risk for yourselves here.

In making your evaluation, I hope you will consider how Trump could have made a sacrifice for the country (as laid out in A Trump speech - NOT), thereby ended the problem of the Trump organization, and further won esteem for himself and greatly aided himself in implementing his policies and programs to help the American people.

Trump is making it evident that he is not going to sacrifice anything personally for the country, and he will take great pleasure in the Trump organization exploiting Trump's Presidency to make the Trump brand even more valuable.

For upwards of half the country, Trump is more and more proving that he is a bullying, blustering, vainglorious egomaniac who is interested only in himself and his greater glory. 

You will have your own views and analysis of the dicey situation that Trump and the country are in, and you will reach your own decisions about what you are going to do.

One choice is to let Trump roll over you (which I think you know he is going to try to do), or you can push back. Maybe Trump will be successful in rolling over Congress, the media, the intel community and the 65,000,000 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton. Alternatively, his unrelenting belief in himself may cause him to run headlong into an immovable wall and come a cropper.

Only time is going to tell whether Congress gets bogged down with Trump, and whether Congress continues to go down in the eyes of the country.

Good luck.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Luther Strange's $309,000

It has been reported that Luther Strange has raised $309,000 for running for the United States Senate when an election is held to fill Senator Sessions' seat. The indication is that Attorney General Strange will make this run regardless of whether he receives an interim appointment for the Senate seat from Governor Bentley.

The 2016 Presidential election
A central issue in the 2016 Presidential election was the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Candidate Trump,  in his very first debate in 2015, was brutally frank about this, saying he gave a lot to politicians, and when he gave, "they were there for him when he needed them" and this was a broken system. Here's the video of that.


There proceeded months and months of Presidential campaigning by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that vociferously charged that a corrupt Congress and broken political system were failing the American people.

Bernie Sanders did not win the Democratic nomination in July.

Donald Trump carried on his criticisms in the general election and campaigned hard at the close of his campaign that he would "drain the swamp" in Washington DC.

This culminated in Trump's Contract with the American Voter, in which he committed to embark immediately on a plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington. The Contract proposed six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC. These are:

★ FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

★ SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).

★ THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.

★ FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.

★ FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

★ SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

The Congressional level
The 2016 Presidential election was overwhelmingly dominant in the news.

The 2016 Congressional elections in Alabama were noncompetitve, and the campaigning in those elections provided to Alabama voters nothing about the "corruption" issue compared to what the voters heard from the Presidential election.

Since November 8th, Senators Sessions and Shelby,  and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell, have been largely silent concerning President-Elect Trump's Contract with the American Voter and its plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion. For more information about this, see Continued corruption silence.

Attorney General Strange as a focus
Perhaps Attorney General Strange's fund raising and his run for the United States Senate can provide a focus for continuing the attention of Alabama voters on the corruption issue during the coming year. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Continued corruption silence

In Alabama Today, Rep. Bradley Byrne has laid out Five things to watch for progress by Congress in 2017, consisting of health care relief, a stronger military, regulatory reform, immigration enforcement, and a simpler tax code.

Thus far, on his Congressman Gary Palmer Facebook page, Rep. Palmer has mentioned repealing and replacing Obamacare and his co- sponsorship and vote for  Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017, H.R. 26.

Since November 10th, I have been making an effort to elicit comment from the Alabama legislative delegation in Washington (Senators Sessions and Shelby; Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell), concerning President-Elect Trump's Contract with the American Voter and its plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion.

I have received no response from any of Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell, except that Rep. Byrne replied that he supported term limits. 

For further information about this effort and response or lack of response, see DC corruption silence.

There are a couple of possible interpretations here. One is that the Alabama delegation does not believe anything is wrong with Congress that needs fixing. Or that something is wrong with Congress, but they don't have ideas for how to fix it or don't believe it can be fixed. Or that something is wrong but it is not so bad to be worth worrying about. Or that something is wrong with Congress, but they like it that way.

Is the silence of Alabama's legislative delegation going to continue? Is the silence representative of what will be forthcoming from the rest of the members of Congress? 

Is President-Elect Trump's Contract with the American Voter, and its plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion, basically a joke or a fraud perpetrated on the American people?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Further ideas for fixing Congress?

Do Senators Sessions and Shelby and Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell want to  tell Alabamians about any further ideas they have for fixing Congress (in addition to Shelby and Byrne balanced budget amendments (reported on below) and Byrne's support of term limits)? (For previous information related to this, see DC corruption silence.)

Friday, January 6th 2017

Shelby and Byrne introduce balanced budget amendments

money
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Wednesday, January 4, 2017, balanced budget amendments were introduced in both houses of Congress. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) introduced legislation proposing a constitutional amendment that would require Congress to have a balanced budget in an effort to reduce our nation’s mounting debt, which has increased from $10.6 trillion to more than $19 trillion under President Barack Obama. U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
In a statement, Shelby said, “The idea behind a balanced budget amendment is simple: the federal government should be required to do what hardworking Americans do every day – balance a budget.
“A $19 trillion debt is simply unsustainable and will place a heavy burden on our children and grandchildren if we do not take steps to reverse this irresponsible course. I’m pleased to once again introduce this common sense policy that would reduce wasteful government spending, restore confidence in our economy, and foster job growth.”
The bill is the first piece of legislation introduced by Congressman Byrne in the 115th Congress, which officially convened on January 3rd.
“I thought it was important and fitting for my first bill introduced in the 115th Congress to be a balanced budget amendment,” Byrne stated. “With the national debt over $19 trillion dollars, it is no secret the federal government has serious spending issues, and I believe a balanced budget amendment is the best way to ensure responsible budgeting.
“Requiring balanced budgets is not a far flung idea. Already, most states are required to have a balanced budget, and families and small businesses face the challenge of living within their means every single day. The federal government should have to play by the same rules in order to restore fiscal sanity in Washington.”
A balanced budget amendment would have to be passed by Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states. According to Shelby, his balanced budget amendment would require that the total amount of money spent by the United States during any fiscal year, except during times of war, not exceed the amount of revenue received by the United States during the same fiscal year, and not exceed 20 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States during the previous calendar year.
Byrne’s amendment would require that the President submit a balanced budget proposal to Congress each year.
Senator Shelby has introduced similar legislation in every Congress since taking office. Byrne introduced a similar bill at the start of the 114th Congress in 2015.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tim Lockette

Thank you, Tim Lockette, for your Anniston Star article "Alabama lawmakers defend their votes after ethics panel backlash" (text of article appended below).

I think your article should be read in context.

The 2016 Presidential election was a remarkable eighteen months of Presidential campaigning by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that vociferously charged that a corrupt Congress and broken political system were failing the American people.

President-Elect Donald Trump campaigned hard at the close of his campaign that he would "drain the swamp" in Washington DC.

In his Contract with the American Voter, Trump committed to embark immediately on a plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington. The Contract proposed six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC. These are:
★ FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.
★ SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).
★ THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.
★ FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.
★ FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
★ SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Here are some questions:

Your article says: "Lawmakers have sometimes grumbled about the OCE, claiming it makes public relations mountains out of ethical molehills."

So, that's it? 

Alabamians have been blown on hard by the above described 2016 Presidential election campaign. 

Did Alabamians hear anything from their representatives in Congress during the past 18 months whether Congress was broken? 

Did any of Alabama's reps in Congress say, "Houston, we have a problem here with Congress that the American people need to address?"

No, the reps kept themselves covered up for these 18 months.

Then on the eve of the start of the new Congress, the American people hear "oh we have public relations mountains being made out of ethical molehills."

Is that what the 2016 Presidential election was about in their minds, ethical molehills?

Tim, why don't you ask them that, whether their view of the Presidential election is that it was only about ethical molehills.  Maybe if you ask them that, we can get to the bottom of how well Alabama's reps in Congress are serving Alabamians.

Thank you, Tim.


January 4, 2017
Alabama lawmakers defend their votes after ethics panel backlash
By Tim Lockette, Star Staff Writer, tlockette@annistonstar.com 8 hrs ago
A vote by congressional Republicans to strip powers from a key House of Representatives ethics panel left Alabama’s delegation with a lot of explaining to do Tuesday.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, voted Monday for rules changes that would have gutted the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. 
Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, says he voted no. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, missed the Monday vote, but didn’t object on Tuesday when Republicans withdrew the changes.
The rest of Alabama’s House delegation was silent on their vote on the ethics panel changes — a vote that quickly blossomed into 2017’s first political dust-up.
“I hope this is a lesson to them,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. “Americans really think Washington is corrupt.”
Congress convened for its 2017 session Tuesday, swearing in new members and preparing to vote on House and Senate rules. But even before the session started, members of the Republican House majority came together to decide on the rules they’d send to the full House for approval.
Those rules included a plan to strip the OCE — an independent ethics watchdog created by House members in 2009 — of much of its authority. Under the proposal, the panel would have answered to the House Ethics Committee, composed of lawmakers from both parties, and would no longer accept anonymous tips.
Lawmakers have sometimes grumbled about the OCE, claiming it makes public relations mountains out of ethical molehills.
Concerns about disorder in the ethics complaints process are valid, which is why Rep. Roby supported a policy change to further empower the Ethics Committee to do its job,” wrote Roby spokesman Todd Stacy in an email to The Star. Roby was one of the few lawmakers to explain her reasons for voting for the changes.
The only current Alabama lawmaker to be investigated by the panel is Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, who was probed in 2010 over $941 in travel money. The final report from that investigation was 144 pages long.
It’s unclear how Aderholt voted on the ethics changes. Because the initial vote to change the ethics panel was an internal party decision, the vote was held behind closed doors. Attempts to reach Aderholt as well as Mike Rogers of Saks and Gary Palmer of Birmingham for comment on the vote were unsuccessful Tuesday.
One Alabama lawmaker, Democrat Terri Sewell of Birmingham, never got a chance to vote on the changes. Republicans were scheduled to bring the changes to a vote of the full House on Tuesday, but they dropped the plan after it generated public backlash.
“I think they came to their senses when they saw how important transparency is to the American people,” said Jordan Libovitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also known as CREW.
Both CREW and Judicial Watch are officially nonpartisan groups, though CREW is widely seen as politically liberal while Judicial Watch is conservative. Both groups joined several other watchdog organizations in December to send a letter to the House asking them to leave the OCE untouched.
Asked why the independent ethics panel was needed, Libowitz noted that the Senate lacks a similar body — and hasn’t seriously punished an ethics violator in years.
“It’s incredibly important to their nonpartiality that they continue to be an independent organization,” he said.
Fitton said there’s little appetite among the House Ethics Committee — composed of House members — to take on tough ethical questions.
“The committee is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “It’s not a recipe for aggressive investigation.”
Brooks, the Huntsville lawmaker, said in a prepared statement that he supported the Tuesday decision to kill the changes to the ethics panel. His staff said he missed the initial vote on the changes because of a travel delay.
“He didn’t have the opportunity to vote,” Brooks spokeswoman Annalyse Keller said.
In his statement, Brooks didn’t completely reject the changes, but did say there should be more public discussion before changes are made.
In my view, it is inappropriate to consider an issue of this magnitude with so little public debate and so little time for proper evaluation and consideration,” Brooks was quoted as saying.
When Republicans decided to withdraw the changes, they did so by consent vote — meaning no one counted votes because there were no objections.
The House is expected to reconsider the changes later this year.
Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

Friday, December 30, 2016

DC corruption silence

Since November 10th, I have made efforts to elicit comment from the Alabama legislative delegation in Washington and from other leaders in Alabama government and politics, concerning President-Elect Trump's Contract with the American Voter and its plan for restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion.

I have sent tweets multiple times to Senators Sessions and Shelby and to Representatives Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer and Sewell, and also have sent tweets to Governor Bentley (who will appoint a successor to Senator Sessions) and to contenders that the Governor has interviewed.

The only responses have been from Representative Byrne, who said he supported term limits, and from Perry Hooper, who said he was co-chair and campaigned across the state for Trump's #draintheswamp agenda.

The efforts that have been made are memorialized in the below blog entries:
Trump's contract with American voter, November 10, 2016
AL Cong'l delegation lobbying ban positions, December 6, 2016
Contenders for Sessions seat, December 13, 2016
Is fighting DC corruption an AL priority, December 18, 2016
PBS News hour, December 29, 2016
Tim Lockette, January 4, 2017
Further ideas for fixing Congress?, January 6, 2017
Luther Strange's $309,000, January 12. 2017

Update 1/3/17
Ooooooh.
Now we know the reason for the Alabama sounds of silence about Wash DC corruption.
Republicans in Congress have been busy conspiring to eviscerate Congressional ethics.





Edit: During the day, the President-Elect pulled the Republicans back.