Sunday, June 16, 2013

Report on Congress


Dona:  We are back this Sunday  with another "Report on Congress."   Last week, there were two reported on Congressional hearings.  On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing held a hearing.  C.I. reported on it in that day's "Iraq snapshot," Ava in "Shut up, Senator Barbara Mikulski," Wally in "Mikulski loves the sound of her own voice (Wally)" and Kat in "Senator Susan Collins Eats The Young."  In Friday's "Iraq snapshot," C.I. touched on it again and also noted the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing she and Kat attended.  Wally, who was the main witness at the Wednesday hearing?

Wally:  The main witness was Director of National Security General Keith B. Alexander.  The Committee Chair is the awful Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Dona: Mikulski really ticked you off.  Not just Wally but all of you.  Ava, look at the title of your piece.

Ava: She needs to learn to shut her damn mouth.  She is a disgrace and a nightmare.  She is every sexist notion of what a woman being a Committee Chair means.  She interrupts other senators in the middle of their questioning to editorialize or share a joke or just let you know what the weather's like.  She is so unprofessional and if anyone dared to treat her like this, she would have a very vocal fit.  But she expects everyone on her Committee to indulge her.

Dona: She took time out in the hearing to trash some reporter who had Tweeted during the hearing.

Kat: Right.  Tweeted that she, Mikulski, was attempting to prevent people from asking questions.  She was furious about that.

Dona: And yet none of you mentioned that.

Kat: We don't usually go for the obvious unless it's key to the hearing.  It was clear, after the hearing, that reporters were going to seize on that so that allowed us to focus on things that they were going to miss.  That's what we do.  There's no point in us writing about the one moment everybody else is covering.

Dona: You're right. And it really did up being 'the story' about the hearing so, yes, the four of you were better to cover other things from the hearing.  C.I., among the things you focused on what Senator Patrick Leahy.  What was key there>?

C.I.: Senator Leahy was questioning the scope.  He was noting how wide the net was -- data on all phone calls -- versus the claim of "dozens" of terrorism cases stopped.

Dona: Claims.

C.I.: Right.  We can't know a number.  It's top secret.  "Dozens."  Alexander acted as though he were giving us the code to Fort Knox with that information.  And it's a claim and they won't back it up because they can't.

Dona:  Ava, you report that Senator Mike Johanns was attempting to question Alexander about spying on people's internet searches and that Mikulski cut him off and then, not only didn't let him resume, but tossed to Senator Dianne Feinstein to let her chatter on.

Ava: Yeah, Big Babsie didn't want anyone asking questions.  As the reporter Tweeted.  Babsie got really nasty.  You know, C.I.'s complained in these discussions you moderate about us attending a State Dept hearing that never mentioned Iraq although the hearing was supposed to be about the State Dept's budget.  And we've talked about how that's typical.  A hearing, everyone goes off on whatever they want in the questions.  Big Babsie had to keep informing everyone that the hearing was about cybersecurity.  She is such a control freak.

Dona: And she was offensive.  You noted that when Senator Mike Johanns finally got his time back, she was blabbering away about the law and he felt the need to remind her that he was a lawyer.

Ava: Right, he said it nicely but he shouldn't have.  The whole Committee should just revolt against her.  If I were on the Committee and asking questions and she pulled that crap with me?  I'd say, "Oh, I'm sorry, am I taking up your time?"  And when she said no, I'd respond, "Then let me have my time."

Dona:  Wally, she cut off Senator Jeff Merkley as well.

Wally: Right.  But she cut off everybody. She's a big blabber mouth that needs to learn to shut her trap.

Dona: I take it you have no plans to go to another of her hearings.

Wally: Hell no! Life is too damn short.  That was our second encounter of Chair Barbara Babbles.  Never again.  I was just sitting there praying, "God, come down from heaven and punch her in the face."  No, I never want to be at a hearing that she chairs again.  Never.

Dona: Kat, you noted Susan Collins.  

Kat: Senator Collins?  What a trip.  C.I. pointed out Senator Dick Durbin's disgust with whistle-blower Ed Snowden because Snowden was once a security guard.  Collins found it disgusting as well.  And let Alexander know how appalled she was that young people are being hired for jobs.  He had to clarfiy to her that the military always hires young people.  That was apparently a novel concept for the idiot.

Dona: You're mad.

Kat: Yeah, Susie Collins was one of the people who insisted that Snowden couldn't have listened in on phone calls and that this was a lie.  Too bad for her crazy ass, US House Rep Jerry Nadler to CNET yesterday that, yes, Snowden or anyone else could, that the NSA briefed Congress on that last week.

Dona: In the time when we've been doing this feature, even when focusing on Eric Shinseki's shortcomings as VA Secretary, I've never heard all of you this mad before.  You are clearly mad.  Am I wrong?

Ava: No.  You're right.  We're fed up.  Kat and C.I. went to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and Wally and I skipped it because we are fed up.  

Dona: With?

Ava: A Congress that thinks it's better than the country or its people.  A pissy little priss senator named Durbin who thinks that he can sneer at someone because their job is or was being a security guard.  Oh dear Lord in heaven, what have we come to?  They don't even try to hide it.  Durbin and Collins were quite clear that they are so far above security guards.  It was disgusting.

Wally: And when you have a Merkley or a Johanns or a Leahy trying to do the job, you've got Bib Babsie cutting them off.

C.I.: Excuse me, Wally, she didn't cut Leahy off.  She's a stupid idiot but she was smart enough to know better than to try to interrupt his questions.

Wally: You're right, she didn't cut him off.  He was the only one.  She must be scared of him.  But the idea that we as Americans can't know what's being done.  All the secrecy comes from the fact that they're looking down on us.  Last week it was Congress thinking they were better and above security guards, next week, it'll be nurses. fire fighters after that.  What a bunch of uppity snobs who need to be kicked out of office.

Dona: Kat?
Kat: I'm agreeing with every word spoken.  Sorry.  I've never seen such pompous behavior in my life.  And I was sinking in my seat every time Dianne Feinstein opened her mouth to distract and lie some more.

Dona: Feinstein's one of our senators.

Kat: And as usual she knows everything but forgot to protect the Constitution and now she seems determined to protect her own ass.

C.I.: Just to be clear on this.  Kat's already talked about how US Rep Nadler has come out and revealed that Congress was told this week that any phone call could be listened to and, no, the NSA didn't even need to get a warrant for that.  That was all of Congress.  Dianne Feinstein is the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  She's been briefed all along.  Yet in the Senate Appropriations Committee, she flat out lied and stated that for any listening on phone calls a warrant would have to be issued first.  She lied.  She knew she was lying.

Dona: You called her out as a liar on that.  And you know her.

C.I.: Yes, I do know her and I know her tell when she's lying.  It was obvious she was lying in the hearing, even before Saturday's revelations.  Dianne Feinstein, she needs to get honest and she probably needs to step down as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee because (a) she's provided lousy oversight and (b) she's now lied to the public and members of Congress.

Dona: Okay, I'm not going to pursue anything else on this topic because you four were there and clearly the major take away from that hearing was the level of disrespect from the Chair, from Durbin, from Feinstein and from Collins for the American people.  As always, this is a rush transcript.

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