Tag Archives: Harry Reid

Sex & Lies. Can a Scorned Husband Bring Down a US Senator?

In the television series “The Good Wife”, a woman has to deal with her politically powerful husband going to jail for sexual impropriety. But what happens when in real life the shoe is on the other foot?

Some of you may remember the tawdry affair involving Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign and his dalliance with a staffer. Well, the staffer’s husband in on the warpath, apparently in an effort to shame him into resigning.

Darlene Ensign and Senator John Ensign
Darlene Ensign and Senator John Ensign

Doug Hampton has been interviewed by, among others, the New York Times and ABC’s “Nightline”, and he shows no sign on slowing down. I’m not sure you can blame him. His wife Cindy carried on the affair with Ensign despite the fact that they were family friends. Both worked for him, even as he was a member of “The Promise Keepers”, that group of ultra-religious conservative men who purport tolive more pious lives than the rest of us.

Hampton alleges that Ensign may have engaged in illegal conduct in paying his wife $25,000 in severance after the affair ended. If that money wasn’t properly reported to the Federal Election Commission, Ensign could face a felony charge. Beyond that, it must be downright embarrassing to have this guy dogging your every move.

It also creates a bit of a problem for the Republican Party. Five months after the Ensign affair was exposed, the GOP thought the whole thing was pretty much done with. They’ve since trained their sights on deposing Ensign’s Democratic counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It looks like they think if they don’t say anything about Ensign, the whole thing will just blow over.

Some will argue Doug Hampton’s crusade is nothing ore than that of a cuckolded husband getting even. After all, he and Cindy (or is it Cynthia?) remain married, as do Ensign and his wife. However, John Ensign was the guy who led the charge after fellow Republican Larry Craig was caught up in that bathroom sex sting. Craig stuck around as well.

Funny, you don’t hear the same chest thumping about John Ensign that you hear about Charles Rangel. Like Rangel, Ensign is being investigated by his body’s ethics committee. Almost no one is demanding he step down from the Finance or Homeland Security committees. In fact, the only person making a fuss is Doug Hampton. The question now is whether the Republicans’ wall of silence will make his quest a moot point.

What do you think? Will Doug Hampton, husband scorned, have any impact on the career of Sen. john Ensign? You tell me.

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Will Abortion KIll Healthcare Reform?

And to think all this time I thought the public option was the most controversial element of reform. Silly Me! Some lawmakers managed to convince House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include an amendment in the House bill barring the use of federal subsidies to pay for insurance that covers elective abortion. That means only in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother could such subsidies be used. Needless to say, while enough lawmakers found this acceptable to get the bill passed in the House, some were furious.

You know what? They’ve got a right to be mad. This amendment, a bone to moderate Democratic House members, makes abortion available only to those who can afford it. It is a backhanded way of telling poor women that a group of lawmakers, most of them men, still want to be able to tell them what to do with their bodies. That the Speaker of the House is a woman is tragically ironic, but no excuse. Neither is the political expediency that this “deal” represents.

Now the same debate is about to begin in the Senate. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, has already said he won’t vote for the bill unless the Senate version is as restrictive as that passed by the House. Who needs Republicans when you’ve got guys like this? Senate Republicans, by the way, wouldn’t vote for this bill if it restricted abortion, banned any care for illegal immigrants, and eliminated the public option. They’re simply the Part of No, meaning if Democrats crafted it, they can’t vote for it.

President Obama, to his credit, wants the House language on abortion eliminated from the final bill. He’s right when he says it’s a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill. Yet the House amendment presents the clearest gauntlet thrown down yet by so-called moderate Democrats. They presented Pelosi with an all or nothing at all scenario, leading a number of progressive Democrats to threaten a scenario of their own.

It all boils down to a couple of simple questions. Is the prospect of insuring 36 million Americans worth forcing some women to give up their right to choose? Will moderate Senate Democrats, if Majority Leader Harry Reid caves on abortion, then go after the public option? Where exactly do folks draw the line? When does the unpalatable become unacceptable? Keep in mind that unlike Nancy Pelosi, Reid opposes a woman’s right to choose.

Looks like it’s cards on the table time. But who will blink first? You tell me.

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Public Option Punked? And By Whom?

So the Senate Finance Committee decided to vote no on two proposals that would have put a public option in their versions of a healthcare reform bill. Both proposals, one by Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and the other, from Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, went down to defeat because of the treachery of a total of five Democrats.

Does this mean the public option is dead?

Nope. It just means there are a majority of lawmakers on the Finance Committee prefer to look out for themselves instead of the American people. The Republican rationale drips with hypocrisy. These people have taken “government can’t do anything right” as their personal mantra. Yet why do they oppose the public option? Because they’re deathly afraid government will do healthcare right, and put some of their buddies in the health insurance business out looking for other work.

And some of them should be. I’m talking about those who won’t insure people with pre-existing conditions, those who drop people the minute they get sick, those who raise rates to unconscionable levels for no reason other than to rake in big bucks. Some of those bucks they turn around and spend on the same elected officials who would have us believe their votes are about principle.

For the record, the Democratic punks of the Senate Finance Committee include Senators Max Baucus (committee chair), Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson, and Thomas Carper. Each will say they have legit reasons for opposing a public option. It’s nonsense, pure and simple.

So, what’s next?

President Barack Obama, that’s what!

He says he supports a public option, but as yet he hasn’t insisted on it.

Now is the time, Mr. President. Time to play hardball, time to stand up for the people who elected you. It’s time to tell the punks you won’t sign any healthcare reform bill that crosses your desk without a public option. If you can tell a sitting Democratic Governor of New York to drop out of a race that’s a year away, you can do this.

It ought to be a piece of cake.

Healthcare reform without a public option is no reform at all. That’s why the Republicans are making it their last stand. They don’t want real competition for their friends in the healthcare industry. The issue here really isn’t them, but what the “good Democrats” in Congress and at the White House are prepared to do.  Is Harry Reid ready to use reconciliation to get this thing done?

And will the House eventually hammer out a bill with a public option that can win a majority?

You tell me. Is the public option still alive?

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