Rep. Vance McAllister, a freshman Republican elected in a November special election with the support of the Robertson family from Duck Dynasty, is already in a political scandal and asking forgiveness from his constituents. McAllister, a family values social conservative, was caught on camera apparently making out with his scheduler, Melissa Peacock, in the hallway of his Monroe, Louisiana, district office. In what appears to be the building’s security footage, the newly elected congressman seems to be cannoodling with Peacock, who was a max donor to McAllister’s special election campaign.
There is a truism in Washington that was confirmed last week in Congress: Even less popular than government regulation is a regulator suspected of not doing its job.
Not for the first time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — or N.H.T.S.A. (pronounced NITZ-ah) — was forced to answer for failing to protect consumers. In this case, the failure involved a defective General Motors ignition switch implicated in 13 deaths. While G.M.’s new chief executive, Mary T. Barra, took most of the heat in two days of House and Senate hearings last week, she shared the grill with the safety agency’s acting administrator, David J. Friedman.
Critics, and not just in Congress, have noted that it was not the N.H.T.S.A. that exposed G.M.’s safety lapse and forced the automaker’s recent recalls of nearly 2.6 million vehicles. The defect was discovered by a lawyer and engineer involved in a lawsuit filed against G.M. by the parents of a Georgia woman killed in 2010. Subsequent press reports spurred the recall. Further stoking concerns, the agency twice considered and decided against opening a formal investigation of the suspected defect.
Given that backdrop, Mr. Friedman’s testimony that his agency would have acted differently had G.M. not withheld information about the flawed part won little sympathy from Congress.
“He basically told us that if only General Motors told them there was a problem, then N.H.T.S.A. could have told G.M. there was a problem,” said Representative Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania who presided over the House hearing, in an interview. “It’s almost dismissive of their role and I’m not satisfied with that.”
“So what we want to know,” Mr. Murphy continued, “is what is all the information that N.H.T.S.A. had, and how did they handle it each step of the way?”
Yet Congress, too, faces questions. The N.H.T.S.A. budget for operations and research has fallen relative to inflation since 2002, when the G.M. saga began, though no one has suggested that more money and a larger staff might have prevented it. The agency’s unit for investigating defects gets about $10 million a year — less than Ms. Barra’s compensation, noted Joan Claybrook, a consumer advocate who led the N.H.T.S.A. in the Carter administration.
Aggressive regulation is typically not rewarded, especially in the Republican-controlled House. And the G.M. case is reviving calls for Congress to strengthen a law enacted in 2000 after the safety scandal involving defective Firestone tires on Ford Explorers. That law was supposed to give the N.H.T.S.A. greater regulatory muscle by requiring manufacturers to file quarterly early-warning reports on any potential problems or defects. But rules written during the George W. Bush administration give companies a loophole to withhold information they define as business secrets.
The law also limits fines that the N.H.T.S.A. can assess for noncompliance, and allows civil but not criminal penalties. Legislative attempts to address the loopholes and limits in 2010 were blocked by the auto lobby and allies in Congress, though Democrats are now trying again."
The New York Times, “Minding the Minders of G.M.”
It’s like you don’t know whether to SMH, LOL, or WTF.(via inothernews)
”We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…you need to get involved, you need to get involved yourself, whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we resuscitate our culture.”
My remix on his utterly simplistic and clueless solution to inner city poverty:
”We have got this tailspin of culture, in our Congress in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…you need to get involved, you need to get involved yourself, whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we resuscitate our Congress.”
i definitely view him as being the lesser of two evils, but more so a President with potential. still, can anyone argue that Mitt Romney is better? i mean, with a straight face and without reference fictions propagated by Fox News or Rush Limbaugh? in the end though, it’s Congress that’s the problem. why won’t anyone acknowledge or push this? Congress is where most of the blame lies, and i don’t mean obstructionist Republicans. i mean the failure of the premiere lawmaking body of the American government unable to do its job, overwhelmed, either willingly or reluctantly, with pressure from outside sources, lobbyists, special interests, staking their futures on monies from these people and then returning the favor. where are the interests of the American people in this Congressional mix? they are by the side of the road way back there in the 70s, it seems.
Conor Friedersdorf, in a masterful essay decrying both Obama and Romney.
the key is Congress, not the President
— great thoughts!
Mr. Speaker, today I rise quite saddened by the news that the Susan G. Komen race for the cure has made a political decision. A fine nonprofit that I have been associated with for years, I have run in the Susan G. Komen race for the cure, I have walked in the race for the cure, I have been the emcee at a number of events locally that they have held, so I have been a big booster of the Susan G. Komen organization, but not anymore. Their announcement yesterday that they are no longer going to fund any organization that is being investigated by a federal, state, or local body means that Planned Parenthood is no longer going to receive $600,000 a year. Now, ironically yesterday the Komen organization also announced and with great concern in a statement that the dismal rate of breast cancer screening with women who do not have insurance is something like 38.2%. Last year the Planned Parenthood organization was responsible for over 700,000, 700,000 breast cancer screenings for women who are poor, for women who don’t have insurance, for women who seek to get the health care they get through Planned Parenthood. So over the last five years there have been four million breast cancer screenings by Plant Parenthood. Komen has funded about 170,000 of them through Planned Parenthood. So what does this mean? Well, I guess it means that Susan G. Komen has decided to become a 501-c-4 because no longer did they want to be providing nonprofits, they want to become a political advocacy group. Last time I checked, we were all presumed innocent until proven guilty and we look to investigations in the federal judicial branch, we look to investigations by the U.S. attorney or the district attorney. Far be it for us to rely on the House of Representatives holding a hearing as being emblematic of justice because oftentimes it’s a political sandbox. Now, this investigation is one that has been called on by Mr. Stearns who is the Subcommittee Chair of Energy and Commerce on Oversight. The hearing has never been held. So why would Susan G. Komen take the remarkable step of saying they are no longer going to fund Planned Parenthood? I suppose when we review NIH and bring them under some investigation that they will stop funding NIH to the tune of $1 million, or I suppose that when we have a pharmaceutical company that we bring to the hill to ask them questions about a particular activity that they will stop accepting sponsor money from that particular pharmaceutical company. All of you across this country that feel that Susan G. Komen should stick to what it knows and that is breast cancer research and breast cancer screening and support and promote those activities by organizations that do the research and do the screening, I ask you to call them at 1-877-465-6636 and tell them that you want them to stick to what they know. Let’s not make this a race to the political bottom. I yield back.