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Rep. John Duncan’s Plea for US Non-Intervention in Ukraine
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) on March 13 presented on the floor of the United States House of Representatives a brief and insightful plea against the US government “sending billions” of dollars to Ukraine and escalating US intervention to cause “some type of military confrontation.”

7 April 2014read on...

Rep. Thomas Massie Bills Would Legalize Raw Milk Sales
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who introduced legislation last year to eliminate the US government’s ban on growing hemp in accordance with state laws, last week introduced two bills that would remove US government restrictions on the sale of raw milk and raw milk products. The two new bills are the Milk Freedom Act (HR 4307) and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act (HR 4308).

3 April 2014read on...

Eric Cantor Evokes George Washington and Founders to Promote His War Agenda
Apparently trying to one-up President Barack Obama, who last month twisted American history and logic to equate US government mass spying with Paul Revere and other revolutionaries’ actions to protect Americans from an oppressive government, House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is claiming President George Washington and the American founders would support Cantor’s world-wide interventionist agenda.

19 February 2014read on...

Congress Votes to Bring Ukraine to Heel
Not to be outdone by the hyper-interventionist State Department of John Kerry, Victoria Nuland, and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday to jump head first into the Ukraine crisis.

11 February 2014read on...

Sanity Emerges: US to Legalize Some Hemp Growing
Researchers in several states soon should be able to legally grow hemp for the first time in decades because of legislation approved today in the US Senate.

4 February 2014read on...

Sen. Wyden Slams Intelligence Officials Over 'Culture of Misinformation'
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today, presents succinctly and forcefully the case that senior officials overseeing the US government’s mass spying program have relied on “secret interpretations of the law” and “years of misleading and deceptive statements…to the American people.” Wyden proceeds to question witnesses James R. Clapper, John O. Brennan, and James B. Comey, Jr.  the directors, respectively, of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the mass spying and the “culture of misinformation” surrounding it.

29 January 2014read on...

McCain and Graham Go To Work Against Iran Agreement
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continue to pull out all stops in attempt to scuttle the six-month interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. The agreement is meant to provide some space for negotiations to continue between the two sides while allowing for some confidence to be built in place of a decades-long hostile relationship.

14 January 2014read on...

Eric Cantor Girds His Iran War Loins
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is leading the counter-attack against the Administration's opening door to a peaceful agreement with Iran. His strategy to scuttle any permanent rapprochement with Iran on behalf of his neocon and Israel/Saudi lobby benefactors is transparent: treat the initial six-month confidence-building measure -- a voluntary cessation of uranium enrichment above five percent in exchange for limited sanctions relief -- as if it were a Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution.

3 January 2014read on...

Sen. Bernie Sanders Exposes Bloated Military and Intelligence Spending
Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a US Senate floor speech Thursday explaining his “no” vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 3304), exposes “wasteful, inefficient, and often fraudulent” Department of Defense spending. Sanders also addresses the bloated nature of US military spending compared to military spending by other governments as well as the tens of billions of dollars sucked yearly into US intelligence agencies’ “black budget.”

21 December 2013read on...

Rep. Jim McGovern: 'It is Time to Get Out of Afghanistan'
Speaking on the United States House of Representatives floor Thursday, Rep. Jim McGovern delivered a comprehensive speech urging Congress to stop wasting $80 billion a year and Americans’ lives in US military action in Afghanistan. “It is time to get out of Afghanistan,” McGovern concluded.

14 December 2013read on...

Congress Alert

Did Sen. Reid Let Slip Secret Plan to Use Navy Yard Killings as Excuse for New Medical Privacy Violations?

There is reason for concern that the US Congress and the National Rifle Association may soon  work together to use the Washington, DC Navy Yard killings earlier this week as an excuse to expand a US government database of all Americans' private medical information.

The day after the Navy Yard killings, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was talking about bringing expanded gun transfer background checks to a vote in the Senate. Bloomberg reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he’ll schedule another vote to expand firearms background checks “as quickly as we can” when enough members support the bill. Reid said at the moment, the Senate lacks enough votes to pass the legislation.
The Bloomberg article then proceeds to discount the possibility of such legislation advancing, saying gun control legislation failed to pass in the Senate earlier this year and quoting one gun control writer who absolutely rejects the possibility:
“The chance of any movement on this issue now is zero,” said Robert Spitzer, author of four books on the history of gun control. “That wind blew itself out politically.”
But, an alternative, secret plan appears to be in the works. Roll Call reports:
The Nevada Democrat [Reid] said he might be willing to move a mental-illness gun bill without a background check expansion, but that comment was quickly walked back by an aide who sent around guidance that Reid does not, in fact, intend to pass a mental-illness gun bill without expanded background checks.
Reid's public comments seem to have gotten ahead of the public relations plan for a mental health database focused bill.

Reid will likely find it a much easier path pursuing gun control legislation focused on mental health instead of a broad gun control expansion such as was considered during the abandoned floor debate on the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act (S.649) in April.

A starting point may be the NICS Reporting Improvements Act (S.480), which was introduced in March by four Republican and Democrat senators — Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), and Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas). As these four senators make clear in their press release announcing the introduction of the legislation, the legislation is intended to prevent more people from being able to posses guns by expanding the mental health database used in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Taking a mental health database legislative approach, Sen. Reid can turn the National Rifle Association into an ally in his gun control efforts. The NRA is pursuing its ongoing lobbying effort with the US and state governments to expand the US government's mental health database and increase the flow of information into that database so more people may be prohibited from possessing guns. Indeed, in the first three months of this year, the NRA's record-breaking lobbying expenditures included spending both to defeat the background checks expansion Reid had backed and to support S.480. The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris W. Cox writes that S.480 "will improve the current national instant background check system (NICS) by improving the records within it."

Meanwhile, Begich, the lead Democrat cosponsor of S.480, has expressed his interest in using the Navy Yard killings to justify expanding the US government's mental health database as a means to further limit who may possess guns. In the Bloomberg article, Begich is quoted as claiming he has introduced legislation that would have included alleged Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis in NICS:
“If I read the reports, he bought his guns legally and had a background check, so the issue that that gentlemen had was mental-health issues,” Begich told reporters yesterday at the Capitol, noting that he has introduced legislation that would have made sure Alexis “would have been in the background check system” when he sought to buy a gun.
If a mental health database expansion bill passes in the Senate, do not expect the House of Representatives leadership to stop its progress. The last major NRA-backed gun control bill focused on expanding the US government's mental health database—Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's NICS Improvement Amendments Act (H.R.2640)—passed in the House in a manner that minimized public knowledge and ensured neither a debate on the issue nor a recorded vote. On December 19, 2007, after all legislative business appeared to have been completed for the year and most representatives were on their way back to their districts for Christmas recess, a small group of Republican and Democrat representatives were sent to the House floor to quickly pass the bill by unanimous consent. The legislation was thus sent to President George W. Bush without any debate or recorded vote. Bush signed the bill into law on January 8, 2007—seven days before the House completed its Christmas recess.

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