Moderate House Dems Shoot Down AOC’s Intel Oversight Amendment

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On 12/9/21 Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) introduced an amendment(Amendment 148 to H.R. 5314–Protect Our Democracy Act), that would have restored the oversight powers Congress always intended the Government Accountability Office(GAO) to have, including over our intelligence agencies. Our intelligence agencies, as everyone knows, are notoriously impervious to any Congressional oversight, and often hide behind a vague 1988 Department of Justice opinion to justify their need for secrecy. Rep Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment would have taken away that cover, ensuring much-needed transparency from our intelligence agencies. Surprisingly, 23 Centrist Democrats voted with House Republicans to kill her amendment.

As Rep Ocasio-Cortez correctly pointed out on the House floor, given the kinds of abuses we’ve witnessed during Trump’s presidency, it is only prudent that we restore GAO’s oversight powers over all federal agencies, including our intelligence agencies. Any reasonable person would agree, that it is foolhardy to assume that former President Trump abused all other federal agencies for his selfish political interests, except our intelligence apparatus, the easiest ones to abuse given the secrecy with which they are allowed to operate.

Rep Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor: “Since it’s creation in 1921, the Government Accountability Office(GAO) has had the purview to conduct oversight of all federal agencies with the goal of reducing waste, fraud and abuse, and holding accountable bad actors. However and unfortunately, most of our intelligence agencies today are not fully cooperative with the GAO, pointing to an outdated and vague 1988 Department of Justice opinion. Our amendment would allow the GAO to act as a check on this behavior, not creating new powers, but restoring the power Congress always intended the GAO to have. This amendment is welcomed by many in the intelligence community, who want to protect their important work and resources from abuse, particularly after the last presidency we just endured. We drafted this amendment in partnership with the community and I’m proud to have the support of Representative Adam Schiff who serves as the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact many of my colleagues have already taken a stand in support of this legislation because in 2010, the House passed a virtually identical amendment.”

The amendment failed with a final tally of 233 nays, 196 yeas, with 4 members not voting. Among the 233 nays were 23 Centrist Democrats who Yours Truly is compelled to name. The nay Dems included Reps Cynthia Axne(IA), Cheri Bustos(IL), Matt Cartwright(PA), Angie Craig(MN), Antonio Delgado(NY), Val Demings(FL), Jared Golden(ME), Josh Gottheimer(NJ), Chrissy Houlahan(PA), Conor Lamb(PA), Susie Lee(NV), Elaine Luria(VA), Tom O’Halleran(AZ), Chris Pappas(NH), Kurt Schrader(OR), Kim Schrier(WA), Terri Sewell(AL), Mikie Sherrill(NJ), Abigail Spanberger(VA), David Trone(MD), Filemon Vela(TX), Jennifer Wexton(VA), Susan Wild(PA).

Ever since the Patriot Act was enacted after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, there have been growing calls from civil libertarians and others, for there to be some checks on the almost absolute powers we granted our intelligence agencies after the 9/11 attacks. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple–power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fast forward to the Trump administration and the abuses we witnessed occurring across all federal agencies–(DOJ being used for the Big Lie, Military on Black Lives Matter protesters in DC, numerous abuses of DHS, “failure” by our intel agencies to anticipate Jan 6th insurrection)– and the need to look into our intel agencies becomes an absolute necessity. It’s against this backdrop that Rep Ocasio-Cortez, with the support of many in the intel community, are pushing for more transparency. One would assume given these set of circumstances, that more oversight would be a no-brainer for Democrats, but apparently not.

Concerns about possible abuses of our intel agencies run the gamut, from the mundane warrantless snooping of our electronic communications (emails, texts, voicemails, etc), to much more serious allegations that if proven, constitute serious violations of our commitments under the United Nations Conventions Against Torture(CAT). These include allegations of 24/7 organized stalking, non-consensual for-profit human experimentation on people entered on terrorism watchlists by weapons manufacturers and others in Big Tech(remote neuromonitoring), militarized attacks on civilians(usually watchlisted) with directed energy weapons, manufactured terrorism cases, etc. These are serious human rights violations that can only come to light through proper oversight. It also bears pointing out that similar egregious abuses have in the past been attributed to our intel agencies, a recent good example being the non-consensual experimentation on U.S. civilians using radiation. President Clinton in 1995, did the just and moral thing by not only exposing this inhumane conduct, but also making whole the surviving victims. The same can be done today.

Bottom line folks, Rep Ocasio-Cortez deserves a lot of praise for pushing for reform on a topic most politicians, and quite frankly the mainstream media, have been terrified to venture into. One only hopes that she musters the courage to push on with it, despite the recent setback on the House floor. Simply put, time has come for our intel agencies to be subjected to some real oversight.

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Shontel Brown Credits Endorsements By Hillary Clinton And Whip Clyburn For OH-11 Primary Win

Shontel Brown was on MSNBC’s Politics Nation (08/07/2021), where she credited her recent win in the OH-11 Democratic primary to endorsements from powerful establishment Democrats Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn. Polls leading up to the 08/03/2021 Democratic primary had Progressive firebrand Nina Turner, backed by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and other leading Progressives, leading Brown in the race. This is why Brown’s primary win was considered by many, an upset.

Shontel Brown told host Al Sharpton:“If all politics is local, I’m as local as it gets…We knew that this was a local race. Having the support of local city council members, school board members, precinct committee folks, that was our path to victory. But I will say, getting the attention and the support of someone like Hillary Clinton certainly reshaped the narrative and got a lot of national support, and after that the ball just started rolling. Whip [James] Clyburn also endorsed my candidacy, the CBC endorsed my candidacy. Right after that, the AFT and the Teamsters came on board…”

Brown then went on to tout her winning political record, even before the high-powered endorsements, telling host Sharpton:“Let the record reflect, we always saw a path to victory, and I say this as calmly and respectfully as I can. I never got into this race with the expectation to do anything other than winning. I have six wins under my belt and Lord willing, on November, this will be my seventh. Anyone who knows me, seven is a number that I strongly believe in as a child of faith. It represents perfection, completion in God. And so I believed from the very beginning that this was my race…”

During the interview, Brown repeatedly avoided delving into the Progressive versus establishment Democrats divide which characterized her primary race, instead reiterating that voters are primarily interested in a candidate who can deliver results, not their political label.

For the record, Yours Truly was already sold on Shontel Brown as a solid Dem candidate, but after hearing her nailing it on the deep spiritual significance of the number seven, she instantly became one of my favorite Democrats, and hopefully in November, one of my favorite House Democrats.

Bottom line folks, as Shontel Brown correctly pointed out, too much is often made of the divide between Progressives and establishment Democrats, when at the end of the day, voters just want capable, even-keeled candidates who can deliver results. After watching Brown’s interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett right after her win, and this one on MSNBC, it is difficult to still consider her win an upset. Yours Truly will leave it at that so as not to ruffle feathers, but I suspect you get the drift.

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Harris-Warren The Emergent Dem Power Ticket

The results of the popular #Dem2020Poll not only show a meteoric rise for Senator Elizabeth Warren but also that grassroots Democrats are very open to an all-female Harris-Warren/Warren-Harris ticket in 2020.

Yours Truly began running the popular #Dem2020Poll to gauge who grassroots Democrats wanted to win the 2020 Dem nomination for president way before the November 2018 midterm elections. As expected, there have been a lot of twists and turns as to who grassroots Democrats want to go up against Trump in 2020. In the beginning it was very clear that grassroots Democrats wanted Kamala Harris at the top of the Dem ticket with Joe Kennedy III as her running mate. This later changed to Joe Biden being the favorite, with Kamala Harris as his running mate. After the November 2018 elections, Beto O’Rourke became the favorite, with grassroots Democrats favoring a Beto/Harris or Harris/Beto ticket. Notice that whatever Dem ticket is hot at any given time, Kamala Harris is somehow always in the mix–something Yours Truly predicted from the very beginning—TeamHarris better pay Yours Truly for this expert punditry folks.

Yours Truly memorialized all these #Dem2020Poll twists and turns in this November 2018 post. Well it turns out that we have yet another twist—the Elizabeth Warren twist. In previous #Dem2020Polls, Elizabeth Warren did not perform well and was consistently unable to secure more than 10% of the total votes cast. Recently however, it’s a whole new story. Elizabeth Warren appears to have found her stride and is at this juncture one of the hottest names in the #Dem2020Poll. Yours Truly will leave it to the paid pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows to figure out the real reason behind Elizabeth Warren’s meteoric rise in the polls. Notably however, there appears to be a great appetite for an all-female Harris-Warren/Warren-Harris ticket so much so that they are crushing a Biden-Buttigieg ticket. Yours Truly didn’t see this coming.

Naturally, valid questions have been raised about the viability of an all-female Dem ticket going up against chauvinist Trump in rural and middle America, the tweet below serving as Exhibit A. Again Yours Truly will let the paid pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows wrestle with the viability of an all-female Dem ticket in 2020.

Bottom line, Warren’s 2020 stock is clearly on the rise. How higher up she goes remains to be seen. There’s still a lot of time from now until the Iowa caucuses and many other twists and turns are bound to happen before then. All Yours Truly can leave you with at this juncture is the famous Trumpian phrase, “We’ll see what happens.”

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Houston’s Lizzie Fletcher–The Unsung Dem Hero

After the 2018 midterm elections, the mainstream media focus has been on incoming Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and deservedly so given the huge odds they overcame to get elected. There has been relatively less talk however about incoming Democrats like Lizzie Fletcher of Houston who flipped TX07, a congressional seat that has been held by Republicans for decades because of her centrist stance. In other words America is not just about the left(liberals) vs the right(conservatives) as is often portrayed by the mainstream media. The 2018 elections clearly showed that across the country, there is a huge swath of winnable voters in the middle(independents), especially in urban areas like Houston, where centrist candidates are preferred.

At a time when college educated voters in urban areas are increasingly frustrated by President Trump’s erratic, even reckless stances on key issues that affect their lives–stock market, immigration, race relations etc–Democrats should focus more on winning these educated urban independent voters. The best way to do that is to showcase Lizzie Fletcher and other centrist Democrats to show the undecided educated urban voters out there that there is room for them in the Dem party. Simply put, Democrats cannot/must not go into 2020 with voters thinking they are just an amalgamation of radical leftists united solely by their hatred for Trump, which is undoubtedly the Dem caricature GOP strategists will try very hard to portray. Centrist Democrats like Lizzie Fletcher are very important for the 2020 fight both at the congressional level and even in the presidential race.

You don’t have to take Yours Truly’s word for it, Lizzie Fletcher recently sat down for an interview with Newsmakers host Khambrell Marshall and said as much; “It[TX07] is an independent district and there is an independent voice that needs to be heard. It is a moderate voice, but it’s a voice that’s going to stand up for what’s right….Ultimately the way I view this district is that this is an independent voice that we need to hear more of in congress.” The full Newsmakers segment is available here but the relevant clip is below

Bottom line there are a lot of exciting new Democrats headed to Washington in 2019. One only hopes that the Dem establishment will shed some light on the less often talked about, but nonetheless very promising incoming centrist voices like Houston’s Lizzie Panill Fletcher.

Yours Truly has always believed that properly harnessed, Houston Texas in particular and Harris County generally, hold the keys to the future of the Democratic Party and it just turns out we have found a “shovel-ready” messenger in Lizzie Fletcher. Folks, you heard it first at grassrootsdempolitics.com that H-Town Dem Lizzie Fletcher is going places and Washington/mainstream media better be ready for her. Her signature tweet below says it all.

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