Category Archives: Lindsey Graham

Whatever Happened to HR 3364? The Amazing Disappearance of the Russian Sanctions Law

On July 25, 2017 members of the House of Representatives voted 419-3 to pass the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act; and on July 27, 2017 the Senate voted to pass it 98-2.  [HR 3364]  This is about as close to “veto proof” as any bill is likely to get.  The President* signed it on August 2, 2017.  [Hill]  Thus, HR 3364 became PL 115-44.

“Per the legislation, the administration was required to issue guidance by October 1 on how it was implementing the sanctions against Russia. That process includes publishing a list of the people and organizations who will be targeted by the sanctions, which are primarily aimed at Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.” [TDB]

Yes, it’s now October 25, 2017 and what have we heard about those published lists of people and organizations targeted for (among other things) cyber attacks on our election systems and democratic institutions?

About all that’s come from the Oval Office is “we’re working on it,” at the Treasury Department, State Department, and Director of National Intelligence…but that October 1 deadline is in the rear view mirror and members of Congress aren’t getting any answers.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did the ‘aw shucks’ reaction last Sunday:

“The Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia. They have a blind spot on Russia I still can’t figure out,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. When asked what Congress could do to force the administration to act, Graham was vague, saying only: “The Congress will have a way to hold the president accountable.”  [TDB]

Perhaps the South Carolina Senator can’t figure it out, but it’s getting ever more obvious the President* is singularly unwilling to address anything even remotely critical of Russia and its klepto-dictator Putin. [see also VF]  A person might even think PL 115-44 has been sent to Siberia? That “blind spot” doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. [MSNBC]

However, there is some evidence the administration is aware of the requirements of the sanctions bill, there simply isn’t a sensation of alacrity or urgency?

“Several recent actions suggest that the Trump administration is aware of the bill’s sectoral sanctions requirements. For example, on September 29, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum delegating “to the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the functions and authorities vested in the President by” Section 231. Additionally, the administration has complied with other 60 day sectoral sanctions-related deadlines. For example, Sections 222 and 223 effectively codified and intensified pre-existing sectoral sanctions that had been imposed under Executive Order 13662. The government made the modifications that Section 223 required be done within 60 days on September 29. Moreover, although President Trump’s signing statement included a number of constitutional objections to specific provisions of the bill (including Section 222), Section 231 is not among them.”  [Lawfare]

There’s no great urgency demonstrated when a bill is signed on August 2, 2017 and the initial instructions don’t go out to the departments until September 29, 2017.  Section 231 (Russia) isn’t all that complicated, and more could certainly have been done to implement the provisions.

It isn’t often that every member of the Nevada congressional delegation votes in unity on any major piece of legislation, and it seems a shame that the President* hasn’t seen fit to move on this topic of important national interest.  Unlike the South Carolina Senator, I think we can guess why little action is taking place concerning Section 231.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Heller, Lindsey Graham, Nevada politics, Politics

“Small Government,” my lady parts!

Happy Hour Debate

For a political party to stake its flag in “No Big Government” territory and then countenance government interference between a woman and her physician is just about as far into the Hamlet of Hypocrisy as one can inhabit.  And, there they went again, as expected, into the manufactured poutrage over the debunked Planned Parenthood video.  First, the Happy Hour:

“This is absolutely disgusting, and revolts the conscience of the nation,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said of secretly-recorded videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue research. “We just, earlier this week, kicked them out of Medicaid in Louisiana as well, canceled their provider contract,” Jindal said. Then, seemingly undermining his case that the undercover videos related to his decision, Jindal added, “They don’t provide any abortions in Louisiana.” [MSNBC]

Yes, what’s “absolutely disgusting” and “revolts the conscience of the nation,” is that anyone would fall for the manufactured propaganda piece in the first place.  Additionally, to blunder into the questions associated with fetal tissue research AND note that PPA doesn’t provide abortion services in Louisiana is about as silly as it gets.  However, Jindal’s found a way to cut Medicaid in his state by canceling their provider contract – which means that the 80% of PPA clients who avail themselves of PPA medical services won’t be getting any help avoiding unwanted pregnancies.  Nor will they be getting STD/HIV/AIDS screening, or cervical cancer screenings, or breast cancer screenings. [PPA]

Former NY Governor George Pataki should have known better:

“You know, Hillary Clinton’s always saying how Republicans don’t follow science? Well, they’re the ones not listening to the scientists today, because doctors say that at 20 weeks that is a viable life inside the womb,” Pataki said. “And at that point, it’s a life that we have the right to protect, and I think we should protect.” [MSNBC]

Not so fast!   The science is a bit different than what Gov. Pataki is asserting. The New York Times reported the latest research results:

The study, of thousands of premature births, found that a tiny minority of babies born at 22 weeks who were medically treated survived with few health problems, although the vast majority died or suffered serious health issues. Leading medical groups had already been discussing whether to lower the consensus on the age of viability, now cited by most medical experts as 24 weeks.” 

Get the “tiny minority” and “vast majority” observations?  And, the part about “leading medical groups” citing 24 weeks as a minimum.  The American Academy of Pediatrics adds, “Determining the survival prognosis for the infant of a pregnancy with threatened preterm delivery between 22 and 25 completed weeks of gestation remains problematic.”    There are at least 8 pre-natal screening tests [ACOG]  There’s a reason for the problems, an ultra-sound ‘fetal anatomy survey’ is a test used at 17 to 20 weeks.  If a woman opts for blood screening tests the ‘sequential integrated screen’ is done at 10-13 weeks, and the second blood test is performed between 15 and 20 weeks.  The ‘serum integrated screen” is performed at 10 to 13 weeks, and the second between 15 and 20 weeks.  [Healthline] Noticing a pattern here? It should be noted that the “anomaly ultrasound” is usually completed around 18-20 weeks. [CDC] Most of the second tests are performed at or around 20 weeks, the results may be in the works when the clock runs out if the forced-birth folks have their way. 

No one is contending that a woman must have an abortion if a fatal defect is discovered in the second trimester.  Perhaps it would help the politicians to remind them that 0-13 weeks is considered the first trimester, 14-26 weeks the second, and 27 – 40 the third.  What rational people are asking is that the woman and her family be the ones who decide if between 20 and 26 weeks  an abortion is necessary to prevent the woman from having to carry a fetus with a fatal birth defect to term.  Governor Pataki should review some of the medical information easily available online before buying into the Radical Right Anti-Choice propaganda.

And then there was Senator Lindsay Graham.

“I don’t think it’s a war on women for all of us as Americans to stand up and stop harvesting organs from little babies,” he said, referring to a legal process by which women can donate the fetal remains after abortion for the purpose of medical research.” [MSNBC]

No, Senator, this isn’t Harvest Time.  We are talking about fetal tissue, donated by women voluntarily for medical research. Tissue which helped find a vaccine for polio, and which is assisting researchers find cures and treatments for such conditions as  Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS),  and macular degeneration. [See previously DB]

Senator Graham is a lucky man – he was born July 9, 1955,  after the (inactivated) injected polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk (1953) and after about 2 million children participated in the 1954 field trials, and after the April 12, 1955 Ann Arbor, MI, press conference announcing the success of those trials.  Between 1955 and 1957 the incidence of polio declined in the United States by 85% to 90%. [AmHistSci]  There would be no more reports, as there were in the 1940’s and early 1950’s of some 35,000 children and adults contracting the dread disease every year. [CDC] And this, because some courageous and compassionate women donated fetal tissue for medical research.

And then there was former Senator Rick Santorum. Who sidestepped the question and went straight for promoting a Partial Birth Abortion Ban law, heedless of the fact that this is NOT a birth, that survival rates for infants actually born weighing 500 grams or less is 14%, [Slate] and that “partial birth” isn’t a medical term, it’s a political term coined by anti-abortion activists. [NPR]

Once the Happy Hour was complete, the main show included Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker proudly announcing that he’d closed down Planned Parenthood in his state four years ago.   Correction: He still has 22 PPA centers in the state, but five did have to close after the state withdrew $1 million in funding from any facility that provided abortion services. [CBS]

The true danger to himself and others is former Governor Mike Huckabee, who wants to apply the 5th and 14th Amendment guarantees to the unborn. Somehow, Mr. Huckabee has invented his own new pseudo-medical term: “DNA schedule.” There is NO DNA schedule. Much less is there a unique DNA schedule for every human being at conception. [CBS] But then, we have to remember that this is the same man who lashes out at any hint of equal protection (under the 5th and 14th amendments) for members of the LBGT community, but finds the Duggar Quiverfull folks perfectly acceptable.

Moving right along:

“Sen. Marco Rubio was on the defensive after debate moderator Megyn Kelly suggested that the Florida Republican would “favor a “rape and incest exception” to abortion bans.

“I have never said that,” Rubio objected. “And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection.” [CBS]

Really?  Because CBS news did a bit of fact checking:

“But he appears to be wrong about never having advocated the exception. In 2013, Rubio cosponsored a Senate bill with wide-ranging Republican support called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, and that bill had exceptions for rape, incest, and in cases when the mother’s life was threatened.”

Who’s arguing? Yes, all human life is worthy of protection, but most sentient beings include the mother in that equation.  So, Senator Rubio, are you now contending that the health and well being of the mother is of no consequence in the formulation of laws concerning abortions?  Are you perfectly willing to orphan the remaining children in the family in order to save a fetus?

And The Donald? Who knows. He jabbered for 10 minutes and 30 seconds. [HuffPo]

None of this should be surprising, other than offering “Repeal and Replace” rhetoric tossing some 19 million working men and women out of their health insurance coverage, and allowing the Banksters to avoid all those pesky regulations which might help ease if not prevent the next financial calamity (Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank), and tossing more funding into the next glorious war – they really don’t have anything on offer for climate change and voting rights…. So we’re back to the same old Trickle Down Economic Hoax, and “wedgie issues.”

Now we have 65 weeks before the 2016 general election…. Not quite long enough to cover the 91 week gestational period of an African Elephant…

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Filed under abortion, Health Care, health insurance, Lindsey Graham, Medicaid

>The Sunday Deck Bass

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Another Sunday, another Desert Beacon Sunday Deck Bass; the world’s most uncoveted, utterly unwanted, totally unsolicited, award from the high dry desert country of northern Nevada is bestowed upon those politicians and public figure(heads) whose flipping, flopping, and positional gyrations best replicate the flopping of a landed bass. Without any further ado – our nominees are:

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gets a nomination because he has taken the Senate’s oath of office – “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” [Sen.Gov] (emphasis added) And, because evidently that oath didn’t mean much. The Constitution’s Article I, Section 9 very clearly states: “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public safety may require it.” No rebellion, no invasion, no suspension.

However, Graham’s love of the Great Writ and our most excellent Constitution didn’t stop him from calling for a constitutional amendment to “modify” the application of habeas corpus for those in U.S. detention [Newsvine] [McClatchy] since the Military Commissions Act – which he helped write, didn’t pass muster before the Supreme Court.

President George W. Bush secures another nomination for his squirming performance in the double headed – double trouble – double speaking negotiations on the U.S.-Iraq ‘framework,” and the Status of Forces Agreement. The President may have adopted the “aren’t they cute” philosophy first promulgated by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Lieberman) who opined that it was a nice thing to have the Iraqis disagreeing and debating. The “Oh, Look! They’re Standing up All by Themselves” condescension ignores the relatively obvious – the Iraqis don’t like the Bush Administration’s proposals.

Mr. Bush for his part said “his administration respected Iraq’s sovereignty and its leaders’ goals” and would “accommodate their desires,” and “negotiate in a way the elected government is comfortable.” [NYT] If Mr. Bush respected Iraqi sovereignty we wouldn’t be having discussions about immunizing mercenaries from prosecution, U.S. control of Iraqi air space, and 58 permanent bases. His explanation is yet another classic Bushism: “And it’s interesting to be working with a democracy where, you know, people are trying to prepare the ground to get something passed in the Parliament, for example, or the free press is vibrant,” he said.” [NYT]

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gets another nomination for his stance, if such it can be called, on privatizing social security. Speaking to a well, and carefully, stacked “town-hall” session [HuffPo] McCain declared: “But I’m not for quote privatizing Social Security, I never have been, I never will be.” [HuffPo] This assertion doesn’t quite square with McCain’s 2004 pronouncement: “Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.” [HuffPo] All the worse for the Arizona Weather Vane, the DNC has footage of his comments.

The Social Security question is addressed briefly on the McCain website as follows: “John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts – but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept.” [McCain] McCain is simply trying to play a game of semantics – personal accounts = private accounts. The gamesmanship is all the more obvious when viewed beside McCain’s comments to the Wall Street Journal concerning the Bush privatization plan. [Swamp] “On Social Security, the Arizona senator says he still backs a system of private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully, and disowned details of a Social Security proposal on his campaign Web site.” [WSJ] The latest incarnation of the McCain position on Social Security is at least his third – and such is the stuff of which Deck Bass nominations are secured. [See also: TP, TP]

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gets another nomination for his cancellation of a fundraiser at the home of Texas oil man Clayton “lie back and enjoy it” Williams. [NYT] As Steve Benen suggests, the McCain campaign should introduce itself to using The Google. First, the campaign actively sought endorsements from Patriot Pastor Rod Parsley, and Armageddon John Hagee; then tried to convince the public that they didn’t know “anything about them.” This previous experience should have been sufficient to cause at least one Google of “Clayton Williams” which would have yielded an instant bio on the Wikipedia, controversial statements and all. Senator McCain may also want to remember that he opened this box in the first place by announcing that “associates” of a candidate, no matter how tenuously related, are “fair game.” [TPMec]

It would be simplicity itself to give McCain a third nomination for flipping and flopping on his “balance the budget” promises. However, that territory has been handled with expertise, eloquence, and cogency by Perrspectives.

The Republican National Committee gets a Deck Bass nod for its performance in the long running Grand Oil Party drama, “The Days of Whine and Poses.” “Why is Barack Obama so negative? In the last 24 hours, he’s completely abandoned his campaign’s call for ‘new politics,’ equating the election to a ‘brawl’ and promising to ‘bring a gun,’ ” said the RNC’s Alex Conant.” [Politico] Gee, now why would a Democratic Party presidential candidate announce that he wasn’t going to tolerate the GOP Echo Chamber Smear Machine after elements of that self-same “uncontrollable, constitutionally protected” network have already publicized such obnoxious fiction as “Michelle Obama on Secret Tape!,” and “Obama is hiding his birth certificate,” “Obama won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance,” and “Obama is a Muslim?” [FTS]

And (insert drum roll and fanfare of choice) The Winner Is: By sheer weight and total volume – Senator John S. McCain III! This is Senator McCain’s 8th Deck Bass Award, tying him with the nation’s worst governor, Nevada’s Jim “Twinkle Thumbs” Gibbons. McCain still lags behind our all time winner, President George W. Bush, by one Deck Bass.

As ever, readers are invited to check on Random Musings to see if there happens to be a McCain Memorial Sunday Crappie, or just click over on general principles to see what’s happening in Arizona. Readers are also well advised to see if there’s an Eel Pout in the offing, and barring that to take a look at the blogging about the $$$$ that disappeared in Iraq.

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Filed under Bush, Lindsey Graham, McCain, Republicans, Sunday Deck Bass