congress

The Government Shutdown Ended. What Now?

Bob Neuman

The shutdown has ended…and now for the showdown. Recent polls show the great majority of Americans are unrepresented in the Congress. And it is time for them to exercise their muscle. The problem is that the hard right and the hard left have an advantage because of unfettered campaign funding in controlling the purchase of advocacy advertising and lavish funding given to candidates of their likemindedness, left and right, far extreme from the center.

Dueling Political Agendas and the Government Shutdown

Dave Helfert

The government shutdown serves no discernible purpose beyond setting a very dangerous stage for competing political interests to try to advance their agendas and, of course, giving the news media and political commentators an urgent issue to cover and interpret. Yet it’s a fascinating time to be a student of political communication.  During these epic battles, we get to analyze rhetorical weapons while they’re still being fired.  We get to take a close look at who’s saying what and how what they’re saying is evolving.  

How Tea-Party Republicans Are Destroying America

Dave Helfert

So now the Tea Party is saying, “Okay, we won’t threaten to shut down the U.S. Government and all its services.  Instead, we’ll put a gun to our head again to force Democrats to give us what we want or we’ll let the United States of America default on its debts.” What they’re talking about now is the federal debt ceiling.  Republican talking points try to argue that the debt ceiling is a matter of cutting out-of-control spending and decreasing the “debt burden.”  

Vietnamese-Americans and the Lingering, Deadly Shadow of Agent Orange

Ngoc Nguyen

Vietnam War veterans in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea receive Agent Orange disability benefits through their governments. Canada has compensated citizens who were exposed to herbicides during pre-war testing of the chemicals. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs has paid billions in disability benefits related to herbicide exposure to eligible American veterans. In contrast, Vietnamese Americans who were exposed and are now sick - a group that includes both veterans and civilians - haven’t received a dime. 

President Obama’s Syria Strike Poses Challenge to Backers

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The even more long-range political peril is to further taint Democrats in the eyes of liberals and progressives as a party that is just as willing to wage war as the GOP. All three are important considerations for Obama. They take on even more significance given that polls show Americans overwhelmingly oppose any involvement in Syria, masses of demonstrators have already taken to the streets in protest of a strike, and some Tea Party-affiliated GOP congressional reps have screamed loudly against the war drums. And GOP Senate war hawks want nothing less than an all-out attack to remove the Assad regime.

How Congress Went Hog Wild Over a Chinese Bid to Purchase Smithfield

George Koo

When Shuanghui, China’s largest pork producer, made an offer to buy Smithfield, it should have been a straightforward business transaction. Smithfield is America’s largest pork producer. By acquiring Smithfield, Shuanghui would be positioned to fill China’s rising demand for more pork. What should have been a simple win-win deal is becoming a lot more complicated thanks to Congressional review. As presented at the hearing, the humble bacon has suddenly risen to become an ominous threat capable of imperiling the security of the United States. 

Supreme Court Ruling Strikes a Blow to the Voting Rights Act

Khalil Abdullah

On Tuesday, President Obama expressed “disappointment” in the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which all but eviscerated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and called upon Congress “to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls.” Other critics of the ruling, however, were not so temperate in their characterization of what could prove to be a game changer for ongoing efforts to counter voter suppression.

Meet Ro Khanna: The ‘Rising Star’ of the Democratic Party

Sunita Sohrabji

Ro Khanna, formerly a high-ranking trade official in the Obama administration, announced this week his bid for California’s 17th District congressional seat, which is currently being held by the venerable Mike Honda. Khanna and Honda are both Democrats likely to be pitted against each other in 2014, due to new state mandates which allow two opponents from the same party to run against each other in the general election.  

As Obama Is Sworn In for a Second Term, African-Americans Question His Agenda

Hazel Trice Edney

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday was celebrated on January 15 and will be observed on the national holiday on Monday, January 21, which is also Inauguration Day. As more than a million people are expected to attend inaugural celebrations in D.C. and millions more will watch around the world, neither the President nor leading Democrats have publicly mentioned his most faithful constituents, whose votes for him surpassed 95 percent in both elections.

Goodbye Fiscal Cliff, Hello Debt Ceiling Crisis

Paul Kleyman

Ah, Washington. The good news is that our national leaders saved our butts (for the moment) from bottoming out off the “fiscal cliff.” The bad news is: Watch your head—it’ll soon come crunching up against another unnecessary “debt ceiling” crisis. The most important Good vs. Bad News about the New Year’s Day cliff dive is that the Ugly—the prospect that Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling could actually cause the United States to default on its international debts with genuine economic consequences—is now put off, but only until March.

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