Chavez to useful idiot Sean Penn: Thanks for defending me, amigo!

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Because no deed, “good” or “bad”, goes unnoticed by Ooogo:

Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez“Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.”

Penn, who has visited Chávez in Caracas, said Venezuela’s poor majority had willingly embraced his leftist revolution, but that this view was concealed from Americans.

“We are hypnotised by the media. Who do you know here who’s gone through 14 of the most transparent elections on the globe, and has been elected democratically, as Hugo Chávez?”

Penn, speaking on Bill Maher’s HBO chatshow, is part of a small but vocal pro-Chávez Hollywood group which includes Oliver Stone and Danny Glover.

They have remained steadfast even as Venezuela’s leader has lost fans at home and abroad. Inflation, crime and water and electricity shortages have hit his popularity and led to defections from his socialist party.

The Organisation of American States recently accused Chávez of intolerance and authoritarianism, and a Spanish judge accused Venezuela of cosseting Farc and Eta terrorists, sparking a diplomatic spat with Madrid.

Chávez thanked Penn for his support in what he said was a daily battle for public opinion.

“I was reading the declarations from our friend Sean Penn, the famous American actor,” he told a televised rally in Caracas. “Penn defended what he considers to be the truth.”

The Hollywood star was an ally in the effort to counter a campaign to “confuse” Venezuelans, said the president, who has been in power for 11 years. “From here I thank you very much.”

This isn’t exactly a shock, considering that this Hollyweirdo, a longtime pal of Chavez’s, was officially endorsed by the Venzuelan dictator back in 2007. I guess you could could say that they are Penn pals of sorts. Still, it’s one more thing Penn can add to his “activist” resume, a resume that impresses no one outside of fellow Socialist-loving Hollywood “activists” like Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, as well as elitists like Princeton University’s Cornel West, the Congressional Black Caucus, and maybe even President Obama himself.

I was thinking tonight after re-reading Penn’s remarks, in which he not only called for critics of Chavez to be jailed but also stated, “Do I hope that those people die screaming of rectal cancer? Yeah. You know, but I’m not going to spend a lot of energy on it”, where was he when his pal Chavez was calling the “democratically elected” President of the United Staes a “el diablo” in a much-publicized speech at the UN? Oh, that’s right – he probably thought Bush “stole” the election like just about everyone else on the left did, and still does for that matter, so I guess it was ok, then, to be a world-class jerk. 8-|

Useful idiot

Sean Penn aka Jeff Spicoli

Think we could convince him to sail that same boat down to Venezuela for his next trip? No? Oh well.

Senate parliamentarian throws a wrench in Democrat reconciliation plans

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Most excellent news, via The Hill:

The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign the healthcare reform bill before Democrats can use special budget rules to pass changes demanded by the House.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told colleagues about the ruling Thursday afternoon, according to a Democratic source familiar with the meeting.

The ruling is a blow to Democrats who planned for Obama to sign in quick succession the Senate version of healthcare reform legislation and a companion measure with changes requested by House lawmakers.

House lawmakers, who are distrustful of their Senate counterparts, have demanded that both measures pass Congress at the same time. Some House members worry that if they passed the Senate healthcare bill, senators would not approve the sidecar measure with the changes at a later date.

Democrats acknowledged the parliamentarian’s ruling was a setback but argued that it does not deliver a fatal blow.

“If this is true, it will mean that we have to find a device to receive absolute assurances from our Senate colleagues that they’ll be able to complete the reconciliation process in the Senate,” Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen said.

“We will have to confer with our Senate colleagues until we find something satisfactory to our Caucus,” he said.

Van Hollen hedged when asked what such a device would have to look like.

Said a Democratic strategist: “It’s just going to require a little more trust from the House that the Senate is going to do its job.”

Hehe!

While the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling is welcomed by concerned Americans all across the country, don’t get your party hats out just yet because it ain’t ovah til it’s ovah:

[Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.)] says that, come Monday, Democrats “will bring a shell piece of reconciliation legislation” to the budget committee. “The reconciliation process has to begin there,” he says. “Here’s what they’ll do: They will take the House health-care bill and mark it up so that it can become a reconciliation vehicle. Republicans will make runs at this via motions to instruct, but since we’re outnumbered, their package will get through the committee. Then they’ll send that shell of a bill to the House Rules Committee. The rules committee will then gut the budget committee’s reconciliation bill and drop in all of the deals that Speaker Pelosi arranges with members who vote for the Senate health-care bill in the House.” Those deals, he adds, “will be hard to scrutinize, and we may never know their full extent, since many of them will be orchestrated outside of health-care legislation.”

Regardless of how bad a reconciliation package looks, Ryan says it is the passage of the Senate bill in the House that troubles him the most. “The Senate parliamentarian made it clear today,” he says. “The Senate bill has to become law before reconciliation can be taken up in the Senate. Knowing this, the Democrats are doing whatever they can to convince House members to walk the plank. But let’s be very clear: If the Senate bill passes in the House, it’s not just some setup for reconciliation — it’s a huge, new federal entitlement that’ll be signed into law.”

“To get that, they need to make promises to members about what’ll come next, so look for them to thread the needle on policy changes and abortion in the budget and rules committees,” Ryan says. “Reconciliation is a distraction for the Democratic leadership — something to talk about with members while keeping their eye on the main prize, which is passing the Senate bill.”

In the meantime, you know what you need to do: Melt the phones. Attend a rally. Email your Congresional reps in the House and Senate. Make your voices be heard!

No wonder Dems have dropped inquiry into allegations against Massa (PM UPDATE: ETHICS PROBE WILL HAPPEN, THANKS TO GOP PUSH)

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The WaPo reports this morning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was informed back in October about alleged incidents of inappropriate behavior on the part of now-former NY Rep. Eric Massa:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was notified in October by then-Rep. Eric Massa’s top aide of concerns about the New York Democrat’s behavior, two congressional sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday night.

Joe Racalto, Massa’s chief of staff, was uneasy that Massa, 50, was living with several young, unmarried male staffers and using sexually explicit language with them, one source said. But what finally prompted him to call Pelosi’s director of member services, the source said, was a lunch date that Massa made with a congressional aide in his 20s who worked in the office of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

According to a person briefed on the call, Racalto was concerned that the lunch followed a pattern by Massa — who is married and has two children — of trying to spend time alone with young gay men with no ostensible work purpose. Racalto, according to this person, also alerted Frank’s chief of staff. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the matter.

[…]

Neither Racalto nor anyone from Pelosi’s office responded immediately to requests for comment Wednesday night. Massa could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The revelation about warnings to Pelosi’s office comes as the House ethics committee closed its short-lived investigation of allegations that Massa groped and sexually harassed several young, male staffers in his office, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

The committee concluded that Massa’s resignation put him outside the reach of any punishment it could impose and would render any findings irrelevant. The decision set up a political battle with House Republicans, who are already targeting congressional Democrats with campaign ads saying they have failed to look deeply enough into the ethical transgressions of their party members.

Republicans signaled Wednesday that they wanted the inquiry to continue, despite Massa’s departure. Senior Republicans in the House said the public deserves to know whether Democratic leaders were aware of the allegations of Massa’s misconduct longer than they have acknowledged and whether they failed to act to protect junior staffers.

GOP leaders cited as precedent the committee’s 2006 decision to investigate claims that Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, sent sexually explicit messages to former male pages. The committee’s decision came after Foley stepped down from Congress. That inquiry also examined how some House leaders ignored claims about Foley’s conduct while others tried to shield his behavior from public disclosure.

Sounds like this could very well be the Democrats’ “Foleygate” moment. Jennifer Rubin, referencing Poltico’s report on what Pelosi’s office knew and when, sees shades of Foleygate in all this as wel, but adds:

Granted, the Democrats have time to correct the problem. They could, if they are inclined to, conduct a serious investigation into who knew what and when. But the presence of a growing, nasty ethics scandal and the judgment of the House speaker at a time when the Democrats are struggling with ObamaCare smacks of the perfect storm — the convergence of bad news and awful media that has the potential to sink the majority party. And should the Democrats sweep this under the rug — for Massa is now departed — the stench will linger for months.

Arguably, 2010 isn’t like 2006 or 1994. This time there is ObamaCare, Massa, Charlie Rangel, the spigot of red ink, and sky-high unemployment. So 2010 could well be worse for the party in power, which suddenly seems as though it can’t get anything right.

What comes around goes around, and all that.

Update – 6:19 PM: Sorry for the late update. Been a hectic day on multiple fronts. I see that the ethics probe will go on after all into who knew what and when, thanks to a strong push by the House GOP. Good for them. Michelle Malkin’s got the details and the roll call vote.

That said, I’m not expecting too much out of this, because essentially you’ve got Democrats policing each other. Not only that, but as ST reader NC Cop notes in the comments:

However, I have a feeling NOW the media will focus on this. Of course, it will be to bash Republicans for playing “partisan politics” or for focusing on politics when the nation is “hurting” so badly. You get the idea. In the end the “investigation” will go nowhere or be dropped later.

Yep. Even though the media has reported on this story more than I figured they would, now that the ethics probe will happen I suspect that NC Cop’s prediction is right on the mark. We saw the same BS happen during the Lewinksy scandal. It always cracks me up to hear liberals try and say there’s no way the media was liberally biased during the Clinton years because “they covered MonicaGate in great detail!!!” Of course, what these same liberals will never admit is that the media, while indeed reporting it, focused on making Bubba a “victim” of a “vast right wing conspiracy”, while at the same time trying to paint the GOP as being “obsessed with sex” when in actuality it was the lying under oath that most concerned the GOP. And in the end, the media’s portrayal of Clinton aided him in avoiding a complete impeachment, and seeing his approval ratings hover in the mid-50s throughout the scandal.

This afternoon’s vote is an interesting development, but I suspect it’s mostly symbolic in nature. Congressional Democrats aren’t exactly well known for holding their own accountable.