We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

A collection of information about "voice votes" used by the US Congress

Collection of Data:

This will be simply a collection of data, no specific sequence:

From th House Rules Committee:

House Rules for the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress


H.Res 385 was filed by Mark Meadows in an effort to oust John Boehner. see "John Boehner coup: Mark Meadows files motion to oust House Speaker" July 28, 2015
Tea party champion Rep. Mark Meadows filed a motion Tuesday to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner from his leadership post, escalating the feud between a faction of conservative lawmakers and the Republican leadership. Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican, filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which could force a no-confidence vote by the full chamber and result in the removal of Mr. Boehner as speaker. Continued

H.Res.385 - Declaring the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives vacant.

Under TEXT we see:
Whereas the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 114th Congress has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decisionmaking,
bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent;

Whereas the Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the executive and judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American people;

Whereas the Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker;

Whereas the Speaker has intentionally provided for voice votes on consequential and controversial legislation to be taken without notice and with few Members present;

Whereas the Speaker uses the legislative calendar to create crises for the American people, in order to compel Members to vote for legislation;

Whereas the Speaker does not comply with the spirit of the rules of the House of Representatives, which provide that Members shall have three days to review legislation before voting;

Whereas the Speaker continues to direct the Rules Committee to limit meaningful amendments, to limit debate on the House floor, and to subvert a straightforward legislative process; and

Whereas the House of Representatives, to function effectively in the service of all citizens of this country, requires the service of a Speaker who will endeavor to follow an orderly and inclusive process without imposing his or her will upon any Member thereof: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives is hereby declared to be vacant.

Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913-2015

Congressional Research Service:
Richard S. Beth, Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process
Valerie Heitshusen, Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process
November 3, 2015

Each new House elects a Speaker by roll call vote when it first convenes. Customarily, the conference of each major party nominates a candidate whose name is placed in nomination. A Member normally votes for the candidate of his or her own party conference but may vote for any individual, whether nominated or not. To be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all the votes cast for individuals. This number may be less than a majority (now 218) of the full membership of the House because of vacancies, absentees, or Members voting “present.”

This report provides data on elections of the Speaker in each Congress since 1913, when the House first reached its present size of 435 Members. During that period (63rd through 114th Congresses), a Speaker was elected five times with the votes of less than a majority of the full membership.

If a Speaker dies or resigns during a Congress, the House immediately elects a new one. Five such elections occurred since 1913. In the earlier two cases, the House elected the new Speaker by resolution; in the more recent three, the body used the same procedure as at the outset of a Congress.

If no candidate receives the requisite majority, the roll call is repeated until a Speaker is elected. Since 1913, this procedure has been necessary only in 1923, when nine ballots were required before a Speaker was elected.

From 1913 through 1943, it usually happened that some Members voted for candidates other than those of the two major parties. The candidates in question were usually those representing the “progressive” group (reformers originally associated with the Republican Party), and in some Congresses, their names were formally placed in nomination on behalf of that group. From 1943 through 1995, only the nominated Republican and Democratic candidates received votes, reflecting the establishment of an exclusively two-party system at the national level.

In eight of the 11 elections since 1997, however, some Members have voted for candidates other than the official nominees of their parties. Only in the initial election in 2015, however, were any such candidates formally placed in nomination. Usually, the additional candidates receiving votes have been other Members of the voter’s own party, but in one instance, in 2001, a Member voted for the official nominee of the other party. In 1997 and 2013 and in both 2015 elections, votes were cast for candidates who were not then Members of the House, including, in the initial 2015 election, sitting Senators. Although the Constitution does not so require, the Speaker has always been a Member of the House.

The report will be updated as additional elections for Speaker occur. ..Continued at link above..

When Boehner Tries to Sneak Bills by Congress, this Rep. Uses a '500-Yard Dash' to Stop Him April 2015.
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has put an end to a number of bills that Boehner planned on sneaking past Congress – and his ingenious method involves a 500-yard dash.

Much to the chagrin of the American public, members of Congress rarely vote on the hundreds of bills that are passed per year.

Most Congressional bills are passed in a nearly empty chamber, and Massie explained to the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Cincinnati, members of Congress like to use voice votes to pass unpopular bills.There’s two reasons Congress loves the voice vote: the first is that because there’s no record of who voted, they can’t be held accountable when the bill passes.

The second reason is that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has sole discretion to decide if there is a “quorum” (218 congressmen) present in the room sufficient to take a voice vote. Massie says frequently there’s only ten congressmen present. All Boehner has to do is squint and say that there’s a quorum present and he may hold a voice vote. ..Continued at link above..

Congress Passes Bills When Key Members Can’t Vote, Most Going Unread

Recently, Congressman Thomas Massie came to speak at the University of Cincinnati. He was the keynote speaker for the Young American for Liberty’s Ohio State conference. Massie gave an eye opening speech on how the House of Representatives works. One of his most revealing stories centered around his 500-yard run that he frequently makes from his office to the House floor.

For those that are not aware, Congress passes a lot of bills! In the 112th Congress, there were 561 bills that passed in one year. If we do some basic math, Congress is in session for 132 days and in that time they pass 561 bills, meaning they are passing roughly 4 bills a day. An example of one of these bills is the 600-page Highway Flood Student Loan bill that was given to the Senate the day of the vote. On top of that the bill had 23 additional amendments.

Congressman Massie explained that voice votes are frequently used to pass motions, amendments, and resolutions. There are several problems with taking voice votes on important issues. First, the voice vote does not hold politicians accountable for their votes. Many of our congressmen that we send to Washington are voting against what they ran on, but we do not have a record of all of these votes. The second problem with this method of voting is that it is solely at the discretion of the House Chair. Under normal circumstances, this would be Speaker of the House John Boehner. He is the only one that is allowed to interpret the vote. ..Continued..

Voice vote: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A collection of information about "Traveling Child Sex Offenders"

Collection of Data:

This will be simply a collection of data, no specific sequence:

INVESTIGATING TRAVELING CHILD SEX OFFENDERS “An Analysis of the Trends and Challenges in the Field of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Cambodia” © APLE Cambodia February 2014

INTERNATIONAL MEGAN’S LAW OF 2010 Mr. BERMAN, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, submitted the following ...

Privacy Impact Assessment Update for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Child Exploitation Tracking System (ICE-CETS) 8-8-2013

H.R.1998 - HERO Act of 2015

S.575 - HERO Act of 2015

Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (Became Law)

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of State

Appendix II: 5-25-2010 Comments from the Department of State to GAO June 2010 report: PASSPORT ISSUANCE Current Situation Results in Thousands of Passports Issued to Registered Sex Offenders
What follows is the detail of the 3 page 2010 DOS Letter

Thank you for giving the Department of State the opportunity to comment on the draft report to the Senate Committee on Finance concerning the issuance of passports to persons registered as sex offenders.1 Please find our general comments and concerns set forth below. Our technical comments with requested changes to the text are provided separately.

We think the report is very misleading. Starting with the title, “Passports Issued to Thousands of Registered Sex Offenders,” we are concerned that it conveys more “shock value” than factual accuracy. The fact is that the State Department lacks legal authority to deny a passport to a registered sex offender and the title of the report should reflect this. Furthermore, of the over 16 million passport books and cards issued in 2008, less than 0.0003 percent were issued to registered sex offenders according to GAO estimates. Additionally, the title fails to reveal the very low percentage of passports that were issued to registered sex offenders in 2008 and the use of the word “thousands” without a reference point implies otherwise. Moreover, the title fails to convey that GAO found no lawful reasons for the Department to deny or revoke the passports of the case study sex offenders based on their status as sex offenders.

1 The Department provided data to the GAO on over 16 million individuals who were issued passports in calendar year 2008. Due to extremely sensitive personal data contained in our records and our responsibility for protecting American citizens’ privacy, the Department provided an extract of data which included the applicants’ Social Security numbers, the date the passports were issued and the first four letters of the applicants’ last names. The Department specified that this data be used by GAO only to identify (1) the passport recipients that might owe federal taxes and the magnitude of those taxes by comparing the passport data against the IRS tax delinquent data and (2) the passport recipients who might be sex offenders by comparing the passport data against the FBI sex offender data. To the extent that this report includes other information about passport applicants, it was not derived from Department of State records nor was Department data used to perform further analysis of the passport applicants. In agreeing to the provision of its passport data to the GAO, the Department understood that GAO on a limited basis intended to use the results of matching passport data to the IRS and FBI databases to perform further analysis, but would not use Department data to do so.
The title also fails to convey that GAO found no evidence that the offenders used their passports to commit sex offenses abroad. To be accurate and balanced, the title should read: “Existing U.S. Law Allows Passports to Be Issued to Registered Sex Offenders, Although GAO Found No Evidence That Sex Offenders Used Their Passports to Travel Abroad to Commit Sex Offenses.”

The Secretary of State has responsibility for issuing passports to U.S. nationals and may only deny an application for a passport if there is a legal basis for denial. The Department takes this responsibility very seriously. To that end, trained adjudicators review each passport application and supporting documentation extremely carefully to determine if the individual is entitled to a passport. In most cases, U.S. citizens are entitled to receive a passport regardless of the fact that they previously committed or were convicted of a crime.

The Department does have legal authority to deny passports in certain circumstances, including limited authority to deny in cases involving sex offenders. As noted in the draft report, Congress has already provided the Department authority to deny passports to individuals convicted of the crime of sex tourism involving minors and who used their passport or passport card or otherwise crossed an international border in committing an offense. The Department is currently working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement this legislation. The Department also has authority to deny passports to individuals for whom an order of probation or parole as been entered by a court forbidding departure from the United States. When such orders are entered for sex offenders, the Department has authority to deny their passports on that basis.

To be accurate and fair, the draft report should make clear that GAO found no evidence that the Department failed to exercise its authority to deny a passport to any sex offender identified in this study. It should also include data relevant to this issue, such as the number of convictions by DOJ in fiscal year 2008 under the relevant sex tourism statute, and the number of those convicted who already had valid passports at the time they committed these crimes. The case studies themselves could explain whether there is any evidence that the passport could have been denied based on a sex tourism conviction, whether the criminal courts failed to enter orders of probation/parole for the applicants forbidding departure from the United States, or whether such orders had expired prior to passport issuance.2

2 The case studies themselves provide particularly graphic details which we think are irrelevant and tend to sensationalize the report, such as details about the age and sex of the victims.
The report appears to suggest, without any foundation, that the Department’s issuance of passports to certain Americans facilitated their commission of sex offenses abroad. There are no facts in the report which show that any of the thirty individuals included in the case studies used his passport to travel to a foreign country to commit a sex crime. Rather, it appears that most (if not all) the individuals included in the case studies committed sex crimes either within their own state or after traveling to a neighboring state. There also is no evidence connecting the sex offender to sex crimes overseas following their convictions.

Moreover, there is no logical connection between the Department’s issuance of passports and the case studies involving travel to Mexico. First, there is little factual data in the report (beyond mere hearsay) that supports the conclusion that any of the sex offenders in the case studies actually moved to Mexico. But even if they did, the report fails to explain that a passport was (and is) not necessary for U.S. citizens to enter Mexico, and was not required to enter the United States from Mexico via the land border until June 1, 2009.

Ultimately, the Department would want to study any legislative proposal to prohibit issuance of passports to sex offenders beyond our existing authorities. As noted above, we currently have limited authority to deny passports to certain sex offenders. To the extent that this report is prepared for those considering such legislation, the report should provide a more detailed discussion of the FBI’s sex offender data and the limitations that data provides generally and with respect to this study. The Department’s understanding is that such data is derived from individual state reporting and that there may be concerns, even by the Department of Justice, with respect to its accuracy. Each state may choose which offenses to report on, and report on a range of sex offenses. The nature of those offenses, e.g., the elements and penalties, and the reporting requirements differ from state to state. Moreover, as we understand it, the GAO only ran State Department passport data against the social security numbers included in the database and did not attempt to determine which offenses or which range of sex offenses the matched individuals committed. Data on the nature of the offenses committed by the matched individuals could be useful in determining whether legislation is needed.

Including such detail suggests the Department knew or should have known of these details at the time the passport was issued and should have taken some action to prevent issuance of the passport. We are also concerned that the only two case studies highlighted prominently on the first page of the report that describe the sex of both the offender and the victim are descriptions of crimes involving two people of the same sex. The descriptions of the sodomy of a male child and a search for “boy lovers” abroad could be construed to suggest the report has an anti-gay bias. We strongly recommend that GAO revisit its decision to highlight these case studies.


January 2016:

Left-handed people or “lefties” have been discriminated against throughout history. They have been ostracized by society, had their dominant hand tied behind their back, and even burned as witches.1 In fact, the words for left or left-handed in many languages have negative connotations.2 For example, the word for left in Latin is sinistre, from which the word sinister is derived.3 Yet being a lefty is not a choice, people are born left-handed. In fact, handedness is directly linked to dominant hemispheres in the brain.4 Historically, efforts have been made to convert lefties into righties, such as forcing them to learn to write with their right hand.5 However, despite these efforts, natural lefties continue to prefer the left hand.6

So what does left-handedness have in common with pedophilia? Well, the answer is actually that the two have a lot in common with each other. It all comes down to science. Recent research indicates that pedophilia, a sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, is actually a biological condition in the brain that individuals are born with, similar to handedness.7 In addition, there is a scientific connection between being left-handed and suffering from pedophilia.8 Also, as with left-handedness, there does not appear to be a cure for pedophilia.9

Nevertheless, while comparisons between pedophilia and left-handedness exist, there is a glaringly obvious distinction. Left-handedness is a victimless condition, pedophilia is not. This distinction, in light of recent research linking pedophilia to the brain and natural biology, raises an interesting question as to how these individuals should be treated in society, particularly in the law. Should pedophiles be subjected to increasingly harsh criminal penalties and civil restrictions when they are born with the condition and cannot cure it? The stated goal of sex offender laws targeting pedophiles is public safety, the need to protect children from sexual abuse.10 However, if pedophilia is a biological condition developed in the brain before birth, then the question arises whether laws targeting pedophiles also need to adapt and address this condition. This article argues that the best way to achieve this goal is for the law to move away from the excessively stigmatizing system that only reaches pedophiles after they offend, with questionable effect, to a system that encourages both treatment and prevention. ..Continued.. by Andrea Friedman*

Sexual violence costs Utah nearly $5 billion every year

1-14-16 Utah:

SALT LAKE CITY — DeAnn Tilton was sexually abused at a young age by a family member.

She recalled Wednesday that whenever she mentioned it to others, she felt like the burden was hers to maintain their "forever family," to keep the family together and "to put up with it."

"My body is my most sacred place of home and it had been violated. My home was no longer my home, no longer my refuge," she said. "When you spend your life not being able to trust going home in your own body, that sets up an entire lifetime of terror, of captivity, of deep shame and of isolation."

And though the abuse ended in her home before the now 47-year-old Tilton was a teen, she said she felt "used" during those formative years and likely set aside her own needs and desires for decades. She was raped twice in college and survived a bout with bulimia as another consequence of feeling shame.

It wasn't until she was able to develop a strong support system that she began speaking out against the abuse.

The emotional costs and societal impacts of sexual violence, similar to what Tilton experienced, are "staggering," Ron Gordon, executive director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, said Wednesday.

A new report on the costs of sexual violence in Utah reveals that Utah government spent nearly $5 billion in 2011, including a $4 billion estimated loss on psychological, emotional and physical suffering and a loss of quality of life for victims, as well as more than $1 billion in real costs. Gordon said Utah spent $9.7 million on investigation and adjudication of sexual violence in that year, with $82 million for confinement and treatment of perpetrators.