Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • House prepares for rare votes on standalone bills to curb human trafficking

    A heavy focus on the problem within U.S. borders

    The U.S. House of Representatives is planning to vote on a series of bills Tuesday aimed at combating human trafficking as part of a federal crackdown on sex slavery and child endangerment within the United States.

    While the five bills being put forward in the Republican-controlled House would primarily address domestic trafficking, they come amid a massive advocacy campaign focused on rescuing 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria who were kidnapped — reportedly for purposes of sexual slavery — by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. In addition to the bills, which have been in the works for months, the House also plans to vote Tuesday on a resolution condemning the kidnapping.

    The five bills are up for votes. The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act” aims to shut down online markets in sexual service by amending the U.S. code “to provide a penalty for knowingly selling advertising that offers certain commercial sex acts.” The “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act” would invest in

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  • Idaho just hosted the best political debate of the year

    Fringe candidates in the Gem State get their moment to shine

    Republican gubernatorial candidates in Idaho debated Wednesday night in what turned into one of the most entertaining political events in recent memory.

    The sitting governor of Idaho, Republican Butch Otter, has three challengers: Russ Fulcher, a Republican state senator; Harley Brown, a veteran and leather-clad biker; and Walt Bayes, a homeschool activist who says he spent time in jail for his religous beliefs.

    Otter insisted that all of them have an opportunity to debate him.

    Here are some of the many of the highlights of the evening...

    Brown's opening statement Wednesday started out strong.

    "Don’t think I’m crazy. Because I’m not.”

    Then Bayes introduced himself. 

    “I went to jail for homeschooling," he said. "I’ve got 77 descendants.”

    The debate turned to the topic of discrimination.

    Brown offered his thoughts on gay marriage.

    "I used to drive taxis in Boise for 20 years at night and I’ve picked up my fair share of the gay community," Brown said. "And they have true love for one another. I’m telling you, they love each other more than I love my motorcycle. And I’ll tell you, they’re just as American as a Medal of Honor winner. Liberty and justice for all, equal protection under the law, I’m glad the judge made that decision. I’m glad that they want to get married and live like that. I know I’m not really talking like a Republican.”

    Bayes disagreed. Then he started reading the New Testament.

    That's when Brown really let loose.

    “A substantial portion of my political campaign is to campaign against political correctness," he said. "Those 'Harleyisms' as I call them, I had a warning on there that you might find it offensive. I hit everybody: Jews, Polish people, Irish, Italians, religious jokes and black jokes.… We took the real hardcore zingers out.… I don’t like political correctness! Can I say this? It’s bondage! I’m about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punchbowl."

    Brown 3

    The debate turned to the subject of wolf hunting. Bayes couldn't care less if you know that he thinks the law is stupid.

    "I did kill a wolf," Brown admitted. "While it was still an endangered species!"

    The moderators moved on to taxes. Which prompted Brown to go on a rant about federal control of Idaho land.

    Said Brown: “The key is getting our land back from the feds. And here’s my plan of attack. The three best men for the mission are myself as governor,  because I’ve got a master’s in raising hell. ... Here’s my plan of attack, OK? You go in there and you use spiritual warfare. Everybody talks about the natural, but I want to talk about the other realm we exist in. You bind those evil spirits that are behind the feds with the blood of Jesus, the name of Jesus and the power of entombment of the Holy Spirit, the power of agreement, the word of God. Take air superiority and then roll in with your tanks on your ground….Blitzkrieg!

    A moderator interrupted him.

    “Mr. Brown? The question was about taxes.”


    Oh, the governor of Idaho was there, as well as a state senator. They also made some strong points. Probably.

    You simply must watch the whole thing:

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  • A liberal group is fundraising off of fundraising off Benghazi

    A fundraising pitch from the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way.

    It’s come to this: A liberal advocacy group launched a fundraising drive this week around the House select committee on Benghazi that criticizes Republican groups for launching fundraising drives around the select committee on Benghazi.

    People for the American Way, a D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes a range of liberal policies, sent a fundraising pitch to supporters this week that blasted Republicans for “exploiting the tragic deaths of four Americans” in order to “raise funds and rally their base.” The message ended with a plea for PFAW supporters to make a donation and renew their membership.

    Last week, after House Republican leaders announced plans to launch a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote a fundraising plea based on the new panel. "House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from Gowdy and the Select Committee. This is going to be a national effort

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  • Benghazi hearing puts Democrats in a tough spot

    Should they appoint members to the select committee or not?

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at her weekly news briefing Friday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

    House Democratic leaders have been unstinting in their criticism of the select committee established this week to investigate the aftermath of the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya. Now they are facing a touch choice about whether to join it, cautiously weighing which strategy would be riskier politically and whether their instinct to boycott the select committee might just give it more power in the end.

    Democratic leaders have called the new committee “a political ploy,” a “stunt,” a “sham,” a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and, in the words of White House spokesman Jay Carney, “a blatantly political and partisan effort.” This week, two arms of the party, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launched a coordinated messaging blitz to undermine the committee and cast Republicans as political opportunists who have established the select committee only because of their interest in raising money and exciting the GOP base

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  • Democrats move quickly to undermine Republicans on Benghazi

    Political warfare breaks out before Benghazi hearings

    This Aug. 23, 2013 file photo shows Democratic National Committee chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, speaking to party members during their summer meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
    The House hasn’t voted yet to appoint a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on an American compound in Benghazi, but mere talk of creating one has sparked a week of political warfare in Washington.

    Through their campaign vessels, Democrats are launching a preemptive strike in an attempt to undermine Republicans leading the select committee. Throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kept up a steady stream of press releases, tweets and videos painting the Republican-led investigation as a political stunt intended to score political points before the 2014 midterm elections.

    “This is a crass partisan [get-out-the-vote] program masquerading as congressional hearings — at the expense of the taxpayer, our national dignity, and (even worse) the memory of those lost,” wrote Mo Elleithee, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, in a memo on Wednesday.

    During a

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  • Can the GOP keep the Benghazi hearings from becoming a 'circus'?

    House Speaker John Boehner: 'It's not going to be a sideshow ... This is a serious investigation'

    Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questions a witness. (Cliff Owen/AP file)

    In 1994, Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton fired bullets at what he would later describe as a “headlike object” in his backyard — whether it was a melon or a pumpkin has been lost to history — in an attempt to prove that White House aide Vincent Foster had not committed suicide but was murdered. At the time, Burton believed President Bill Clinton was responsible for his death.

    Burton went on to become the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and would be remembered for aggressively — and sometimes unethically — probing the tiniest details of Clinton’s presidency. The committee sent out more than 1,000 subpoenas to Democratic officials for various investigations on Burton’s watch, including one that delved into the White House Christmas-card list. The strong-armed tactics and stunts defined Burton’s tenure as a top cop in Congress, but Republicans were regularly accused of overreaching.

    Today, Republicans organizing the new select committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist

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  • My spring break with Big Liquor

    Five days in whiskey country with America's distilled spirits lobby

    Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe at his home in Bardstown, Ky. (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)
    CASCADE HOLLOW, Tenn. – It was on Day Five of a liquor-lobby bus tour that my hands first started shaking. This was frustrating, because I had trouble pouring my second shot of bourbon for breakfast.

    A coach full of reporters was heading south from Nashville toward the George Dickel distillery on a journey through American whiskey country, and the early hour did nothing to deter the passing of a bottle of Woodford Reserve. For five days and six boozy nights, representatives from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade association that represents the liquor industry, had been herding 17 journalists from seven countries through Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. We visited distilleries, cooperages, and whiskey-still manufacturing plants in a quest to find the best glass of American whiskey and learn about the age-old distilling process. Our guide, DISCUS senior vice president Frank Coleman, told us every day to enjoy our brown spirits “in moderation.” Some of us

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  • The face of hemp in Washington

    Industrial hemp has a lobbyist, and he's a true believer

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Ben Droz loosened the red paisley tie around his neck, pulled the knot over his head and replaced it with a skinny black cord made of hemp with sterling silver tassels at the ends. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of plastic tie slides—a screaming eagle and a geometric wood piece—that would, when attached, turn the string into a bolo tie.

    “This one’s more subtle, more professional,” Droz said, selecting the wooden piece. He pulled it up the string toward his Adam's apple. His bolo tie in place, he was ready to “go lobbying,” as Droz put it.

    Droz is the American hemp industry’s main man in Washington. As a registered lobbyist for Vote Hemp, an advocacy group that works to loosen hemp laws, Droz, a 27-year-old from Pennsylvania with a thick head of hair and caterpillar eyebrows that make him appear eternally excited, has made it his life mission to bring the gospel of hemp to the leaders of America’s capital city. For the past five years, Droz has loaded up a hemp

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  • Rand Paul has a plan to win over the country

    But he needs to convince his own party first

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., autographs a shirt for a fan at the GOP Freedom Summit on April 12, 2014, in Manchester, N.H.(Jim Cole/AP)

    MANCHESTER, N.H. — There’s an obnoxious game that politicians play around the halfway point between presidential elections. They dangle the possibility of making their own White House run with a wink and a nudge — not to mention a steady diet of airplane pretzels — as they zip between early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Then they brush aside political reporters who ask them if they’re considering a presidential bid, quizzing them as to why they’re always so obsessed with politics.

    “What I’m doing is very simply thanking and encouraging grassroots activists,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said innocently in Manchester Saturday when asked if he was testing the presidential waters during a weekend swing through New Hampshire. While there, he met with state party officials and spoke at a conference of conservative activists.

    Cruz may very well choose not run for president in 2016, but let’s get real. The guy’s not test-driving New Hampshire for a joy ride.

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  • The second coming of Scott Brown

    Inside a Massachusetts moderate's quest to become New Hampshire's next senator

    Republican Scott Brown announces his bid for the U.S. Senate primary election in Portsmouth, N.H. (Dominick Reuters/Reuters)

    PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Standing alone outside the glass door of a ballroom at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, Rex Houdyshell, a systems engineer from Amherst, was waiting patiently to finally see Scott Brown in the flesh.

    Houdyshell, a soft-spoken man with short hair who hunts Bigfoot in his spare time, was the first supporter to arrive at the event where Brown, the former Massachusetts Republican senator who lost his seat in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, would launch his campaign Thursday to redefine himself and return to the Senate via New Hampshire.

    “He was the hero of 2010,” Houdyshell told me while we both waited for the doors to open for Brown’s big kickoff.

    Indeed, there was a time when Brown appeared to be a tea party savior, when he shocked everyone by winning a Massachusetts special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy. At the time, his victory snatched the final vote Democrats needed to pass President Barack Obama’s controversial health insurance overhaul.

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