With different types of technological assistance, Culberson made sure the big event would be recorded for history. There are also a couple of YouTube videos made by someone titled "tax reformer." They are both with young Republican staffers - the first with a young woman who loses her credibility at the end when she gives the camera a less than sophisticated (dopey) smile. tax reformer should have edited that part out, many of us do something silly at the end of video interviews without even realizing what were are doing. In the two videos the interviewees stated that it was a good thing that the Republicans were "taking the country back" --- when the young man said that the Democrats wanted to run everything. I almost laughed. It makes you wonder if he was subjected to Extraordinary Rendition, sent to a secret overseas CIA camp, and was brainwashed (nothing personal, but he opened himself up when he agreed to the interview).
The Republicans were having a temper tantrum in response to the Democrats ending the session without taking a vote on the expansion of drilling to deal with the oil crisis. For once, the Democrats had the backbone to stand up to their colleagues. Hopefully, this is a good omen for the future. Even so, it is hard not to laugh when you hear about these types of events.
If you recall, many of our most restrictive new laws regarding security, terrorism, and surveillance, proposed by Republicans, but still came about with the help of our Democratic lawmakers. It doesn't make sense why the DEMS would side so often with the Republicans (unless it is for money or power??), or not do enough to stop the GOP tank from smashing the few civil liberties we have left. Even so, the DEMS can be nasty too, but the GOP beats them on nasty behavior.
Perhaps the Republican representatives have lost their ability to reason now that their party is going down the tubes. Some would say they lost their way a long time ago, when they began their two major projects; the GOP anti-terrorism campaign and its public relations project to demonize immigrants.
A few days ago I heard a comment about winning elections - I apologize for not remembering the source - it was something like "if you want to win an election, just scare everybody."
Fear is contagious.
see dreamacttexas post "Panicking for What?" from June 3, 2008.
for YouTube video interview of Republican staffer click here
Bizarre Scene on the House Floor
by Ben Pershing
August 1, 2008
ORIGINAL POST: If a party stages a protest on the House floor but no one can see or hear it, does it make a sound?
That's the question at hand right now, as House Republicans have essentially taken over the House floor to protest the lack of action on energy legislation, despite the fact that the chamber has officially recessed for the August break.
The cameras in the chamber are off, so C-SPAN is currently showing footage of press conferences. At the direction of the House Sergeant-at-Arms, the microphones in the House are also off, so the lawmakers present are yelling to make their voices heard. (Though Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) apparently has been using his cell phone to stream video to his office, which is supposedly putting the footage on YouTube, which may or may not violate House rules. Capitol Briefing is trying to confirm details of this.) There is no member sitting in the Speaker's chair, no parliamentarian and no clerks. The lights were off, then on, and now off again.
Still, roughly 20 GOP lawmakers and about the same number of staff are on the House floor, chastizing Democrats for going on break without a vote on more oil drilling.
Gesturing toward the tourists still filling the visitor's gallery above, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said: "Tell your friends the Republicans refuse to go quietly!"
The GOP may not be going quietly, but they haven't been amplified, either. "The microphones have been on, and they have been off, and by God's grace, I can not tell whether right now whether they are on or they are off!" Pence shouted.
Capitol Briefing himself might not have been able to see this unusual scene, since the doors to the chamber's seats for the press are typically locked when the House goes out of session. But a member is apparently allowed to keep those doors open, so House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has been sitting in the press seats with a handful of reporters so the media can bear witness to their protest.
How long will this go on? Despite the enthusiasm of the handful of members present, most Republicans appear to have already beat it to the airport to catch flights home for the five-week recess. Capitol Briefing will keep you updated on this non-session as it continues to unfold.
By Ben Pershing | August 1, 2008; 12:55 PM ET House
--UPDATE 1:05 PM: It turns out that Rep. Culberson is not actually streaming video or audio from the House floor. He is posting updates on the current protest using his Twitter account. That makes sense, as Culberson has been a vocal critic of House policies restricting members' and aides' use of Twitter.
--UPDATE 1:45: This spectacle increasingly is entering a gray area in terms of official House rules. Most of the chamber's seats are now filled with tourists, who are sitting and listening to the speeches, bright shiny visitor stickers affixed to their chests, as though they were members of Congress. A handful of reporters have also gone to the floor, a definite no-no when the chamber is actually in session. It's not clear whether they can be on the floor as a lawmaker's escorted guest when the chamber is technically out of session. (Capitol Briefing was offered the opportunity to go but declined, as he values his press credentials and the career they have afforded him.)
Democrats, meanwhile, see the whole affair as a political stunt. Here's a statement from Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):
"Republicans are too scared to go home to face their constituents after voting against bills to force Big Oil to use it or lose it, demand that the President free our oil from the government stockpile and crack down on speculators. In a week when Exxon Mobil made the largest quarterly profits by a U.S. corporation, Republicans are staying in Washington to argue that Big Oil deserves more taxpayer lands. That sums up their priorities."
--UPDATE 2:40 PM: Capitol Briefing will admit to never having seen anything remotely like this in 10 years of covering Congress. As "The Phantom Session" continues, the chamber is packed with tourists, and the line to get in the galleries stretches down the stairs inside the Capitol. What appears to be an entire troop of Boy Scouts is sitting in the chamber. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) apparently went to the airport to go home but then turned around and came back. He walked into the House a few moments ago wheeling his suitcases behind him, prompting a huge round of applause and high-fives from his colleagues.
Democrats face a dilemma here. The longer this goes on the more attention it will get. But the last thing they want to do is turn Republicans into martyrs by having the police force people to leave. The GOP would like nothing more than for tourists to be manhandled out of the chamber (especially those innocent Boy Scouts!) and for reporters to be told they have to leave the press gallery. So don't expect the majority to take the bait and kick everyone out anytime soon.
Meanwhile, you can keep reading updates on Culberson's Twitter page. They're pretty dramatic:
"We are speaking without microphones - as though it were 1908 - acoustics of House chamber are good and gallery and you can hear us"
"Retweet these messages - these are the only words being broadcast from the House floor today"
--UPDATE 4:15 PM: There seems like a decent chance that this spectacle will end around 4:30 p.m. That's when the galleries are officially supposed to close and when the Capitol typically closes to tour groups. In theory, Republicans could keep up the fight even after the hundreds of visitors have filtered out of the chamber, but members usually like to have some kind of audience. A progressively smaller group of reporters is hanging around until the bitter end, as many journalists have already left the Capitol for a traditional bout of last-day-of-session drinking. Capitol Briefing, of course, is very pleased not to be sitting on a bar patio somewhere enjoying the sunshine and a beer. He'd much rather be here listening to the 78th consecutive speech about gasoline prices.
--UPDATE 4:35 PM: Scratch that. The visitors gallery has been emptied but the unseen, unheard fight on the floor lives on.
--UPDATE 5:10 PM: A group of Republican lawmakers just held a press conference off the floor, where cameras could capture their words for posterity, during which they reiterated their desire for a vote on opening up more land for oil drilling. They vowed to keep up their floor demonstration for ... well, for awhile anyway. They wouldn't really specify how long they're planning to stay here tonight, though they did suggest they might come back at various points this month to stage more floor rallies. Capitol Briefing is already making plans to be sick on those days.
Culberson, by the way, is also Qikking (sp?) about today's events.
--UPDATE 5:30 PM: It's over. Approximately 20 minutes ago, the remaining members and staff on the floor sang "God Bless America," chanted "U.S.A., U.S.A!" and then, finally, left the chamber. Since none of this was broadcast anywhere, you're just going to have to take Capitol Briefing's word for it. A safe and pleasant weekend to you all.
for link to WP blog, click here