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NSA Wolves in Reformers' Clothing

There is nothing so dangerous as when Washington starts "reforming" something. Usually it means that despite best obfuscation efforts the administration or Congress has been caught doing something -- or not doing something -- sufficiently outrageous to create a public stir.

Once caught, said government body does not simply cease and desist or make good on its mistake. Instead, a commission is formed made up of current and former government officials and other Washington insiders, an expensive study is funded revealing that the problem was simply not enough oversight (i.e. government workers on the payroll), and a grand but confusing multi-part scheme with everything thrown in but the kitchen sink is implemented to great fanfare and media praise. The impression is left that the problem has been solved. Until the next time.
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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.

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Ron Paul on Larry King's Politicking Program

Ron Paul interviewed by Larry King yesterday -- don't miss it! Unfortunately at this point it is audio only, but please do not let that discourage you from listening to this excellent and informative video:
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Twisted Arms and Talking Points: Behind the Iran Sanctions Bill Debate

On Wednesday, the House debated and passed overwhelmingly HR 850, the Iran Nuclear Prevention Act of 2013. As we wrote on the eve of the vote, these new sanctions are timed to disrupt the inauguration of Iran’s new president, a moderate, and to severely restrict Iranian oil exports. Those who have gone along with increasingly restrictive limitations on oil exports to this point, for example Japan and China, may well find this a bridge too far.
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Congress to Tighten Screws on Iran Tomorrow

As we wrote several days ago, the House will vote on a new Iran sanctions bill this week, possibly as early as tomorrow. With nearly 400 co-sponsors of the bill, known as HR 850 -- the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, the debate is likely to be rather one-sided and in fact a recorded roll call vote is unlikely. It is considered too non-controversial to warrant a recorded vote.

The bill has undergone some further revisions in the past days, primarily to add more aggressive and condemnatory "sense of Congress" language.

According to the most current language, the US seeks to thwart Iran's "already aggressive foreign policy" by applying yet another layer of sanctions in effort to force Iran to cease work on the nuclear weapons that the CIA and Mossad do not believe they are building!
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House to Hit Iran With New Sanctions Bill This Week

The House Leadership has announced that it will bring a new Iran sanctions bill to the Floor for a vote this week. The bill, HR 850 - Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, will be brought up on the "suspension" calendar this coming week. Traditionally, bills are brought to the floor under suspension of the rules because they are considered "non-controversial" and therefore the higher, 2/3 affirmative vote threshold for passage is not considered an impediment. This is generally the category reserved for renaming post offices and the like.
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Defense Bill Up Today: Mini-Rebellion Crushed

House Leadership has put forth a limited closed rule governing the debate over the Defense Appropriations bill (HR 2367), approving just over 100 amendments to the bill. The bill will be on the House Floor today shortly after noon.

By approving for debate several watered-down amendments on controversial issues, such as Rep. Radel's (R-FL) meaningless fund limitation on Syria, this rule will allow Members to placate constituents back home, who want no part of another Middle East war, while in effect doing nothing at all to stop the war train as it is rapidly leaving the station. As US involvement in the Syrian war escalates, as it inevitably will -- particularly with today's news that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have "approved" transfer of arms to the Syrian opposition -- Members will be able to return to their home districts with the political cover of having voted  for an amendment on Syria even if it is empty. Few will notice.
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Defense Appropriations Delayed -- Rebellion in the Works?

Faced with an unexpected groundswell of opposition to its highly unusual move to limit debate on the Defense Appropriations bill, as well as fears over a Floor fight on such contentious issues as the coup in Egypt, arming the Syrian rebels, and NSA spying, House leadership has made it clear that the bill is on hold until at least next week.
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