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and unfortunately, most of our intelligence agencies today are not fully cooperative with the GAO, pointing to an outdated and vague 1988 Department of Justice opinion.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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AOC And Fellow House Democrats Want Annual Refugee Cap Raised To 200K

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) appeared on MSNBC’s ReidOut show(08/26/2021) to discuss the ongoing evacuation crisis in Afghanistan, and the plight of Afghan refugees currently trickling into the United States. Rep Ocasio-Cortez told host Joy Reid that she’s joining hands with about 70 other House Democrats, in urging the Biden administration to raise the annual refugee cap from the paltry 15,000 under former President Trump, to at least 200,000.

Rep Ocasio-Cortez told host Joy Reid:“When it comes to the devastation that we have seen in Afghanistan, the United States plays a role. We have a responsibility, and in order to… make good on the role that we have played in this violence, we have a responsibility to make a home for the people whose lives have been upended by interventionist U.S. foreign policy. And so, as a result, I’m proud to have co-written a letter with Rep Barbara Lee[D-CA], to ask and urge the Biden administration to, as they set their refugee quota, to make it no less that 200,000 in the upcoming year.”

You’ll remember the Trump administration dropped the annual refugee cap from 85,000 under President Obama, way down to a paltry 15,000.

Bottom line folks, as Rep Ocasio-Cortez correctly stated on ReidOut, we have a moral obligation to fulfill the promises we made to Afghans, whose help we enlisted in the fight against terrorism, and whose lives have been upended by the current state of affairs under Taliban rule. The least we can do, is raise our paltry annual refugee cap to at least 200,000, so that we can admit into the United States, as many of our Afghan allies as is possible. It’s also the moral thing to do, and one sincerely hopes the Biden administration will grant Rep Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow House Democrats, their noble request.

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“Being A.O.C”: A CNN Special Featuring Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

CNN’s Dana Bash interviewing Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

CNN’s Dana Bash did an hour-long special on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) titled “BEING A.O.C”, which aired on 08/09/2021. As expected, “BEING A.O.C” ended up being quite an interesting and informative hour of television where viewers leaned a lot about AOC the young Latina, versus AOC the Congresswoman we are accustomed to seeing on TV. Yours Truly would have loved to drop the entire hour-long show here for your consumption, but because of copyright issues(the boatload of commercials), all Yours Truly can manage is chopping up the special and serving you the various segments, beginning with whether she plans to primary incumbent Dem Senator Schumer in 2022, and run for president in 2024.

AOC on why Fox News is so obsessed with her

AOC on the power of femininity

AOC on being misunderstood and hated by right wingers

AOC on striking a balance between her congressional duties and her desire to raise a family

AOC on being insulted by a Republican Congressman

AOC on taking down a powerful and loved Dem incumbent, and how this led to her cold reception by fellow Dems in Congress

Bottom line folks, AOC, like Trump(admit it libs), almost always makes for great TV, and Dana Bash’s special did not disappoint. Yours Truly gives Dana Bash an A+ grade(95%) instead of a full blown 100% grade because of this slight “ding”: She left out AOC’s stay in West Africa, where she reportedly even picked up the local language. I think viewers would have loved to hear about her experiences in Africa, and how they have affected who she is today.

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AOC Says States Have Only Doled Out $3B Of The $46B Congress Provided For Eviction Relief

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) appeared on CNN’s State Of The Union(SOTU) show (08/01/2021), where she discussed among other things, the failure by her fellow House Democrats to extend the federal eviction moratorium before leaving Washington for the August recess. Rep Ocasio-Cortez made a startling revelation at the interview, saying that out of the $46 billion Congress allocated to the states for eviction relief, only $3 billion has actually been doled out to assist struggling renters, adding that some Governors, presumably Republican, are “slow-walking” the process. The full CNN interview is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez told host Jake Tapper:“This money was handed over by Congress and federal government to states and local municipalities to dole out. What that means then, is that each individual Governor is responsible for establishing these programs. I think that in some states, Governors and state administrations might be slow-walking this process to get it out, in other states it’s the administrative burden of setting it up, but there are states and municipalities that have been getting it right…but we cannot kick people out of their homes when our end of the bargain has not been fulfilled. Out of the $46 billion that has been allocated, only $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small mom and pop landlords.”

Think about that. As it currently stands, more than 90% of the funds Congress allocated to the states to assist families with their housing needs, are just laying around unused, as the intended recipients remain stressed out over eviction. This is either the height of cruelty, or incompetence by the state governments, or both.

Bottom line folks, there is zero excuse for a Governor, Democrat or Republican, to sit on federal eviction relief funds, knowing full well that we are staring at a potential mass eviction crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before. Even more troubling is the fact that the very same Rep Ocasio-Cortez, was way back in October 2020, sounding the very same mass eviction alarm. Simply put, any Governor needlessly sitting on the much-needed federal eviction dollars while struggling renters suffer, needs to be called out to the fullest.

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Ivanka Slams AOC’S Green New Deal

In a Fox News interview Ivanka Trump attacked Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (aka AOC) Green New Deal initiative making the shocking argument that most Americans are opposed to the initiative’s guarantee of a job with a livable wage–a guaranteed minimum of $15/hour.

Ivanka said, “I don’t think most Americans in their heart want to be given something….people want to work for what they got. So I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job, they want the ability to live in a country where there is a potential for upwards mobility.”

While this may not necessarily be a controversial point if its advanced by any other conservative, it is kind of shocking coming from Ivanka whose White House job many consider “given”. In other words, the argument Ivanka is making against AOC’s Green New Deal is routinely made by many other conservatives. However hearing it from her, someone who has literally “got” everything from her rich dad, just makes the argument almost insulting. And yeah Ivanka, given the fact that the cost of living has steadily risen over the years while wages have remained stagnant, a lot of working families are eager for $15/hour jobs which they deserve as opposed to being “given”. These are jobs that will make them keep up with the rising costs of living, something Ivanka probably never had to deal with.

It bears pointing out however that Ivanka is very media savvy. As the president’s daughter she is a very beloved figure on the right. She knows AOC is a very beloved figure on the left. So there’s a very good chance that she deliberately went after her Green New Deal in an effort to generate fireworks both on the left and right thereby giving her publicity. As they say in media circles, “no publicity is bad publicity”. It will be interesting to see the blowback Ivanka’s stunning remarks generate from the left, especially from the aforementioned AOC.

Bottom line nobody seriously believes that in her heart of hearts Ivanka thinks working families currently earning less than $15/hour would not appreciate a wage hike. Yours Truly will go out on a limb and say this is a publicity stunt on Ivanka’s part–a very clever one at that.

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