Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last Call

And now the Syrian/Israeli dustup is getting a nasty response.

Syria warned on Thursday of a possible "surprise" response to Israel's attack on its territory and Russia condemned the air strike as an unprovoked violation of international law.

Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes", Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said a day after Israel struck against Syria.

"Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land," Ali told a website of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria and Israel have fought several wars and in 2007 Israeli jets bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site, without a military response from Damascus.

Diplomats, Syrian rebels and regional security sources said on Wednesday that Israeli jets had bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah. Syria denied the reports, saying the target had been a military research center northwest of Damascus.

Hezbollah, which has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he battles an armed uprising in which 60,000 people have been killed, said Israel was trying to thwart Arab military power and vowed to stand by its ally.

It's not much of a surprise if you announce it beforehand, guys.   Still, with Russia now involved in this mess, Israel is not exactly helping things.  Odds really are pretty good that the Syrian convoy was going to Hezbollah, but jumping borders in order to bomb it still rather counts as a belligerent act, even in the era of drones in my everywhere.

At this point getting a Secretary of Defense confirmed to help America formulate options with this festering pile of crap now on SecState Kerry's plate would be a good idea, yes?

Ironic Goatees For Everybody

Observation:  If you want to know what Nate Silver would be like if he decided to use his powers for “soft jazz glibertarian concern trolling of liberals” instead of for good, then the Freakonomics franchise is about as close as you can get.   It’s what happens when a Village Centrist and a Chicago school social economist team up for maximum totebagger nonsense.

Every single story there is “Here’s this liberal policy that you probably think is a no brainer.  Now here’s our cherry-picked cost/benefit analysis that shows there’s really a massive hidden socioeconomic price of that policy because the evil and stupid federal government gets involved at this point here.  It’s okay however, because you’re subconsciously doing the counter-intuitive opposite of this policy on your own personal microeconomic scale.  And since so is everybody else, that’s why the policy seems to ‘work’ at the macro level.  You’re just a delusional hypocrite, that’s all.  Still, enjoy the guilt while you ruminate on the fact that government can never, ever work.”

And if the story isn’t about a liberal policy screwed up by the gubment, it’s “here’s this conservative free-market policy that you would think doesn’t work but…” and then you have to punch somebody.  Luckily, hanging around this place long enough has allowed me to recognize the standard McBargle/Reasonoid logic these guys employ and go “But your entire premise is self-serving bullshit that only works as the very definition of confirmation bias.  Go stick your head in a goat orifice.  Thanks.”

Makes me want to set a Thermomix on fire.

Rand Paul: Gordian Knothead

My junior senator's logic causes me actual, physical pain at times.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who describes himself as a libertarian, said Wednesday that he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because it could unintentionally result in same-sex marriage becoming legal.

“I believe in traditional marriage,” he said during an interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. “I really don’t understand any other kind of marriage. Between a man and a woman is what I believe in, and I just don’t think it is good for us to change the definition of that.”

Paul noted that his state, Kentucky, had approved a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. He said he was “not sure” about DOMA, but warned the federal law could result in conservatives losing “the battle for the whole country.”

Paul said marriage rights should be decided state-by-state rather than nationally so that “urban centers” couldn’t dictate the law.

To recap, Mr. Small Government here seems to think that it's not only good but completely necessary for the government to define what marriage is and then enforce it.   The guy is totally okay with legislating his beliefs on other people, but only at the state level, so that nobody in the federal government can tell him he's wrong to do so.  This makes him a "Libertarian".

It makes hm a moron, too.  Sadly, as I mentioned, it also makes him my representation in Washington DC.

This makes me sadder than you will ever, ever know.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last Call

If this National Review editorial board piece is indicative of the GOP position on immigration (and boy is it ever) then I think I might have discovered why Republicans are basically in an untenable and unwinnable position of their own making on Latino and Asian voters.

Republican immigration reformers with an eye to political reality should begin by appreciating that Latinos are a Democratic constituency. They did not vote for Mitt Romney. They did not vote for John McCain. They did not vote for George W. Bush, and in the election before that they did not vote for George W. Bush again. In 1998, George W. Bush was reelected to the governorship of Texas with 27 percent of the African-American vote — an astonishing number for an unabashed conservative. Bush won 68 percent of the overall vote in that election, carrying 240 out of Texas’s 254 counties. Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Gary Mauro.

And, if we are to take Hispanics at their word, conservative attitudes toward illegal immigration are a minor reason for their voting preferences. While many are in business for themselves, they express hostile attitudes toward free enterprise in polls. They are disproportionately low-income and disproportionately likely to receive some form of government support. More than half of Hispanic births are out of wedlock. Take away the Spanish surname and Latino voters look a great deal like many other Democratic constituencies. Low-income households headed by single mothers and dependent upon some form of welfare are not looking for an excuse to join forces with Paul Ryan and Pat Toomey. Given the growing size of the Hispanic vote, it would help Republicans significantly to lose it by smaller margins than they have recently. But the idea that an amnesty is going to put Latinos squarely in the GOP tent is a fantasy.

It simply hasn't occurred to the NRO folks or the GOP leadership or Republicans in general that comprehensive immigration reform that includes tough border security and a path to citizenship is the correct and humane thing to do.  Conservatives are too busy trying to figure out the calculus of pandering, and are having this conversation as loudly as possible, in earshot of Latino voters, Asian voters and you know, human beings with souls.

But AMNESTY, so there's that.

About that word. Call it “regularization,” call it a “path to citizenship,” it amounts to precisely the same thing: a decision to set aside the law and to ignore its violation. And therein lies a problem for so-called comprehensive reform: Normalizing the status of the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country, either in toto or in part, would require the development and application of standards for doing so, whether those are relatively narrow (as in the DREAM Act and similar proposals) or broad. Unless we mean to legalize every illegal in the country — including violent felons, gang members, cartel henchmen, and the like — there will be of necessity a system for sorting them out. It is difficult to believe that the same government that failed to enforce the law in the first place will be very scrupulous about standards as it goes about dealing with the consequences of its own incompetence.

Because as you know,  we've only had an immigration problem since January 20, 2009.  Guess why you're losing the Latino vote, guys?  Maybe you know deciding that Latinos are nothing more than worthless moochers and looters is probably a bad idea, right?

GOP outreach for the win.

Huckleberry Hounding, Ho!

Sen. Lindsey Graham isn't giving up on finding a way to make President Obama burn for Benghazi, and now his increasingly desperate fishing expedition is focusing on outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, as he told FOX on Monday night:

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Secretary Panetta going to testify?
GRAHAM: Well, I’m not going to — I’m going to block Hagel from going forward until he does.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you’re going to block him.
GRAHAM: Absolutely. Why would we not want to understand what happened during the attack itself? How could our secretary — what happened for seven hours? Why were there no military assets available on September the 11th.

Let's keep in mind Huckleberry here has already sunk Susan Rice, and is threatening to sink John Brennan as new CIA chief  as well.  Now he's going to stop Hagel until he gets to the bottom of this "mystery".

Only one problem, of course.  All of the above have given their answers to Congress already.

Graham’s dogged pursuit of “the truth” is undercut by the fact that many of the questions he’s asking have already been answered. Panetta and other administrations officials have repeatedly stated that due to the attack coming in two waves, and the distance between Libya and Sigonella Air Base in Italy, the U.S. was unable to send military forces to respond. Likewise, the question of the editing of Susan Rice’s Sept. 16 Sunday show statements has been previously identified as the result of an interagency process, in which the CIA itself removed references to Al Qaeda.

It doesn't matter.  Obama has to be guilty of some crime, and Graham won't be satisfied until he makes one up that fits.   And now that recess appointments are impossible, who knows how long America won't have a full cabinet to deal with various issues?

But both sides do it, right?

The Banana Splits Get Dumped

The bananas GOP plan to split swing state electoral votes by congressional district has run into a massive backlash in several key states this week.  Michigan's GOP Gov. Rick Snyder is sinking the plan, saying it's not "the right time" for it.  Here in Ohio, GOP state leaders are against the plan entirely, even Secretary of State Jon Husted says it's a bad idea.  And in Virginia, the plan didn't even get out of legislative committee, getting killed 11-4:

ProgressVirginia reported Tuesday afternoon that the Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee killed Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr.’s electoral college-rigging bill, despite an offer by Carrico to amend the bill to award electors in proportion to the state’s popular vote. The vote was 11-4 against the bill, although it will not be official until the close of the committee meeting.

The bill, as written, would have awarded 11 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes to the winner of each of the state’s 11 heavily gerrymandered Congressional Districts. The remaining two electors would have been awarded to whoever won the majority of Congressional Districts. Under this scheme, Mitt Romney would have received 9 Virginia electors to Obama’s 4, even though Barack Obama won the state by four points.

With 4 Republicans joining all 7 Democrats on the committee to kill the bill, it seems not even the GOP has the stomach for this plan.  There's simply no way to disguise the fact this is an attempt to steal the 2016 election, regardless of state election totals.  The GOP is passing on this for now, at least in some states.  We'll see how Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania react at this point, but for now it seems this plan has been blunted.

Key words:  "for now".  It'll be back before 2016, count on it.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Last Call

In the end, Sen. John Kerry was confirmed Tuesday as the next Secretary of State in an overwhelming manner, 94-3.

The Senate on Tuesday easily confirmed Democratic Sen. John Kerry by a vote of 94 to 3 as the next secretary of state, ending a largely non-controversial confirmation process and kicking off what is expected to be a hotly contested race in Massachusetts for his seat in the Senate.

At a time when bipartisanship is often on display in Washington, all but three Republican senators voted to confirm Kerry as secretary of state: Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Kerry voted "present" on his confirmation. He is set to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is stepping down after four years of service.

Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and the 2004 Democratic nominee for president, has served on the Foreign Relations Committee since his arrival in the Senate in 1985. He began the hearing process with public backing from Democrats as well as Republicans who came together Tuesday to publicly laud both Kerry's personal background as well as his extensive experience and relationships with dignitaries around the world.

"Sen. Kerry is uniquely qualified to serve as the next secretary of state," Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said on the Senate floor prior to the vote, noting that Kerry's father served as a diplomat, Kerry's deep knowledge of international affairs as well as his relationships with diplomats.

Ted Cruz making an early claim as "most reactionary GOP Senate freshman" with this vote.  

Also, the special election for Kerry's seat will be June 25, so that should be one to watch, certainly.  It'll also mean Elizabeth Warren is senior Senator from Massachusetts.

Forward, then.

Turtle Soup Special

Mitch McConnell isn't that popular here in Kentucky.  The Tea Party hates him because as Senate leader, he's sold them out time and time again.  Democrats hate him because he's Mitch Freakin' McConnell.  The end result is he has a lot more enemies than friends.

With his re-election bid just a year away, those opposed to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell outnumber his supporters 2-1 among Kentucky voters, according to the latest Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

In the poll of 609 registered voters, 34 percent said they plan to vote against McConnell — while just 17 percent say they will vote to give him six more years. Forty-four percent said they will wait to see who is running against him before deciding, and 6 percent said they are not sure.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. It comes as groups on both McConnell’s right and left seek candidates to challenge him in the primary and general elections in 2014. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate as minority leader, is seeking his sixth term.

Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, dismissed the poll as “nothing more than an irresponsible way to stir up cheap headlines.”

“Anyone with a kindergarten level of education in polling knows that asking voters to support an incumbent ‘no matter who runs against him’ is guaranteed to produce the most skewed number possible,” Benton said.

Sure, the polls are skewed guys. Just like back in November.  Here's what McConnell's people are really scared of:

Meanwhile, the United Kentucky Tea Party, a group of 17 tea parties from across the state, says it is recruiting someone to challenge McConnell in the primary. The group charges that McConnell has supported debt-ridden budgets and profligate spending throughout his career.

Which is true, and Mitch knows it.  Turtle soup is back on the menu, boys.

The Wages Of Moose Lady Are About $16 A Word

FOX has dropped Sarah Palin like a bad habit, meaning Governor Half-Term's wingnut welfare ride is officially at an end.  Don't feel bad for her however, she certainly cleaned out Rupert Murdoch's network.

With the three-year contract now expired between FOX News and Sarah Palin, there is a wealth of commentary made by the former Alaska Governor and GOP Vice-Presidential nominee to dissect.

Palin, who was paid a reported $1 million per year as a contributor to FOX since mid-January 2010 when FOX announced her signing, may not have made quite the splash her employers had hoped during this three-year period, and would, on occasion go weeks between appearances.

So, did the network get their money's worth?

A Smart Politics review of the more than 150 FOX broadcasts in which Sarah Palin appeared as a paid commentator from 2010 through 2012 finds that she spoke 189,221 words on air during this span, for an average pay rate of $15.85 per word. 

Palin appeared on the network in studio, by satellite, by telephone, or in a pre-taped interview an average of once every 7.2 days during this three-year period, with the vast majority of those coming on two particular programs.

Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren both interviewed Palin 55 times, combining for nearly three-quarters of her appearances on the network over the last 36 months. (Note: the latter total includes interviews by Griff Jenkins and guest host Martha McCallum on Van Susteren's On the Record program).

So laugh all you want to at her, she still made three million bucks being a moron on TV.   Hell of a lot more than you or I made last year for our political opinions, right?

Grifters gotta grift, and nobody grifts like the Moose Lady.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Last Call

Republicans have to punish those awful poor people so they'll choose to stop being poor, you know.  The latest iteration of Shame The Poors:  Tennessee GOP's latest scheme to send kids to bed without any pudding.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield has proposed legislation that would cut welfare benefits to parents whose children fail to make "satisfactory academic progress" in school, a move he says should inspire parents to take a more active role in helping students learn.

While the Knoxville Republican says SB132 is a step toward "breaking the cycle of poverty," Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, says it could make life more difficult for parents and children who are already struggling.

Campfield said in an interview that the best way to "break the cycle of poverty" is through education and a child's success in schooling rests on a "three-legged stool" - teachers, schools and parents.(Note: His blog post on the bill is HERE.)

He said Tennessee has already embarked on education reforms designed to improve the quality of teachers and the quality of schools. There should also be a focus on the "third leg," parents, he said.

"We've set the tone (through legislation) to push and improve teachers and schools," Campfield said. "Now is the time to push those parents. This bill is giving them motivation to do more to help their children learn in school."

"If the family doesn't care if the child goes to school or does well in school, the odds of that child getting out of poverty are pretty low," the senator said. 

See, if we just cut benefits to the stupid poor families, the parents (who must be poor because they choose to be poor and lazy) will simply stop being poor and lazy because otherwise they'll starve.  Problem solved! Hey, the problem is clearly poor parents on welfare don't work anyway, so they have all the time in the world to tutor their kids and make them get better grades.

So your kids are having problems learning because they are hungry all time time from being poor?  Better make sure Junior aces that test or the family gets cut off and goes hungry.  No pressure there, son.  Just choose to succeed, that's all!  After all, why should Tennessee taxpayers have to worry about schoolkids eating and stuff anyway.  Just punish them until they are motivated to stop being poor, and the problem resolves itself.  If the difference between the family having enough to get by and the family crashing and burning is the little guy's next math test, well by gosh you'd better make sure you poor people care enough about your kids to make them into honor students.

It's so simple, even a child can do it.

Johnny Volcano And The Lost City Of Voters

Sen. John McCain thinks he can be the reasonable voice of centrist Republicanism in America, and while he has the Village fooled, his own party has at this point all but thrown him out.  Exhibit A:  Immigration reform.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday that losing the Hispanic vote in the last election will encourage Republicans to get on board with a comprehensive immigration bill that will provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

"I'll give you a little straight talk," McCain said on ABC's "This Week" when asked how Republicans could be convinced to include a path to citizenship in a reform package. "Look at the last election.  Look at the last election.  We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that."

If you think immigration reform is going to pass the House GOP and John Boehner will be able to deliver, I have some beachfront property in McCain's state of Arizona for sale to you.

In a speech that was closed to the press, Boehner told the Ripon Society, a Republican public policy organization, on Tuesday that it is “time to deal” with immigration changes. He said the House group, whose members he did not name, have been holding quiet conversations for three or four years and would be coming forward soon with proposals.

The Ripon Society released some excerpts on Wednesday but Boehner’s comments came in a question-and-answer period that has received less notice. They were first reported Saturday by the Hill newspaper.
The comments were significant because advocates of immigration changes have long assumed legislative action on the issue would need to begin in the Democratic-majority Senate.

Oh House Republicans want to get out in front of immigration reform, but it doesn't mean they'll pass it.  They want to come up with a bill on their terms, but frankly anything they will come up with will get trashed by their own side, and will be torpedoed.   If you thought there was a civil war in the GOP before, wait until any of the GOP proposals including the words "path to citizenship" come up for a vote in the House.

A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire. 

The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants. 

House Republicans are already steeling themselves for battle over this, and the split is going to be ugly.  90% of GOP districts may be blood red and safe, but primary challengers are always just around the corner, and these guys know it.  By the time it's over, even Johnny Volcano will find himself having to filibuster the bill or his political career will be over.  I guarantee it.

Immigration isn't going anywhere.  It'll be killed by the far right just like in 2007.   I'd like to be wrong, but betting on the GOP to take the sane, reasonable approach on something is for suckers.

Israel Getting Up In Syria's Business

And just when your thought it couldn't get too much worse in the Middle East, along comes Israeli hardliners to make me regret thinking we've reached a logical nadir.

Any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons is slipping as it battles an armed uprising could trigger Israeli military strikes, Israel's vice premier said on Sunday.

Silvan Shalom confirmed a media report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had last week convened a meeting of security chiefs to discuss the civil war in Syria and the state of its suspected chemical arsenal.

So yes, this was going on as the votes were being counted in Israeli election last week.  Charming, huh?

Should Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas or rebels battling forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad obtain Syria's chemical weapons, Shalom told Israel's Army Radio: "It would dramatically change the capabilities of those organizations."

Such a development would be "a crossing of all red lines that would require a different approach, including even preventive operations," he said, alluding to military intervention for which Israeli generals have said plans have been readied.

"The concept, in principle, is that this (chemical weapons transfer) must not happen," Shalom said. "The moment we begin to understand that such a thing is liable to happen, we will have to make decisions."

So yeah, in the chaos that is Syria right now,  if it looks like anybody's going for Syria's chemical arsenal, the Israelis are going to start a war, which of course will draw in the United States, Iran, and well...things get really bad from there.

Here's hoping cooler heads prevail.  I personally think this is a play to force the US hand to intervene in Syria before Israel "feels it has to."  Which of course, could lead to Iran following up.  All this is pretty awful, frankly.

Happy Monday, right?


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Last Call

The biggest problem with the GOP remains that in a majority of states, they run the show.  At the local, county, and state level Republicans are politicizing every possible state government function and stacking the deck with like-minded Teabaggers with the goal of using "small government" to control as much as they can.

One big area where the GOP is causing lasting damage is in public education.  In Texas for example, the war over the state's school textbooks has been hard-fought and ugly.  That battle is the subject of a new PBS documentary, The Revisionaries:

The movie follows the testimony and actions of the board as it tears through—and in some cases, tears up—the science and history standards that were forwarded to them. It uses footage of hearings and votes, along with interviews of many of the participants, including a professor involved in writing the science standards, and Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization dedicated to limiting the impact of the board's more ideological members.

And they are seriously ideological. McLeroy is quoted as saying, "education is too important to not be politicized," while fellow board member Cynthia Dunbar claims that "education is inherently religious." And she apparently treats the board meetings the same way, as she's shown giving an opening prayer in which she calls for Jesus to help everyone recognize that the US is "a Christian land, governed by Christian principles."

The existing Texas science standards had language that called for the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution to be taught. That language has opened the door to the sorts of spurious criticisms that McLeroy is fond of (and apparently, subjects some of his dental patients to). So when the proposed new standards came to the board without any mention of strengths and weaknesses, McLeroy and others fought hard to put them back in. As a compromise, the board simply renamed them to "analyze and evaluate," creating awkward results like instructing students to "analyze all sides of scientific information" about evolution.

If anything, the history standards were worse. Dunbar claims she's a "big fan" of Thomas Jefferson, but thinks a "secular humanistic ideology" has clouded current interpretations of his work. So she cuts him out of the standards on the Enlightenment and its influence on the US' founding documents, instead substituting in pre-enlightenment figures like Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Further revisions to history come rapid fire, as others try to add the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, and NRA to a section on the '80s, and another person tries to make sure Barack Obama's middle name (Hussein) is added to the text where his name appears.

One board member, looking at the results, is seen saying, "I feel that I have let down the students in our state because all those kids in our schools right now, when they get to college, they're going to learn the real history."

The movie ends with McLeroy losing his reelection bid by a few hundred votes, but already thinking about running again at his next opportunity. But some of his many opponents note that the changes he helped make to the standards will be influencing entire generations of students before they're next revised in 2020.

And they will never give up until Americans are as stupid and as ignorant as they are.  A generation of talk radio and FOX News has given the reactionary right unprecedented power to eliminate critical thinking and turn us all into "Christians" who have only faith and no desire to learn anything but what they are told.

So get involved with your own school board, your own state textbook committee, your own city council, your own county commission.  The other side sure as hell is.

Priorities: Code Orange

It's nice to know that Republicans have America's top priorities in mind:  jobs, the economy, gun violence, the environm...what's that you say, House Speaker John Boehner?

In a special message to the annual anti-abortion protest March for Life, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) vowed that ending abortion would be one of the top priorities of Republicans this year.

“Defending life, of course, is about much more than voting the right way or saying the right things,” he said. “It’s about promoting a culture of life. It’s about understanding that abortion is a defining human rights issue of our time. Because human life is not an economic or political commodity, and no government on Earth has the right to treat it as such.”

“With all that’s at stake, it is becoming more and more important for us to share this truth with our young people, to encourage them to lock arms, speak out for life, and help make abortion a relic of the past,” Boehner continued. “Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year.”

Boehner said the Republican-led House would again seek to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which sparked controversy in 2011 because of how it defined rape. The bill was approved by the House but died in the Senate.

Yay, we're back to the War on Women as their top goal: ending safe, legal abortions and forcing women to resort to unsafe, illegal abortion! Woohoo!

Let's just criminalize the vagina, shall we?

Out Of Ammo And Shooting Blanks

Anyone surprised at this turn of events on the assault weapons ban 2.0 in the Senate hasn't been paying any attention at all.  Bloomberg's analysis:

At least six of the 55 senators in the Democratic caucus have expressed skepticism or outright opposition to a ban, the review found. That means Democrats wouldn’t have a 51-vote majority to pass the measure, let alone the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster to bring it to a floor vote. 

Gosh, HOOCUDDANODE?  And guess what, they're all red state Dems:  Tester and Baucus of Montana, Begich of Alaska, Heitkamp of North Dakota, and of course, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

In other words, if you thought for a second that Blue Dogs like Heitkamp and Manchin were going to actually risk their pristine A ratings from the NRA over silly nonsense like "What the people want", you really are nuts.

This is why the Dems don't even have a majority in the Senate, frankly.

[UPDATE]  Greg Sargent makes the point that the AWB 2.0 was always doomed, but universal background checks may actually pass.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Last Call

The GOP plan to steal the electoral college is getting some backlash, which means Republicans are both denying the plan at the state level...

What are the chances that this plan gets passed? It doesn’t look great for Republicans in favor of the bill. The proposal will likely make it out of the full Republican-controlled Committee on Privileges and Elections, but will face hurdles in front of the full Senate. The Virginia Senate is split between 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. One Republican, State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, abstained from voting in favor of the proposal in subcommittee and has said it is unlikely she will vote in favor of it on the Senate floor. Without her vote, the proposal is a no-go.

...And admitting they want to take to plan nationally to all of the GOP-controlled swing states that voted for Obama.

Jordan Gehrke, a D.C.-based strategist who's worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, is teaming up with Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Republican secretary of state, to raise money for an effort to propose similar electoral reforms in states across the country, he told me this week.

Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week. The money would go toward promoting similar plans to apportion electoral votes by congressional district in states across the country, potentially even hiring lobbyists in state capitals. 

Gehrke isn't saying which states the project might initially target. He says he'd like to see the plan implemented in every state, not just the ones where clever redistricting has given Republicans an edge, and he justifies it in policy, not political terms.

A presidential voting system where the electoral college was apportioned by congressional district might not be perfectly fair, he says, but it would be better than what we have now. It would bring democracy closer to the people, force presidential candidates to address the concerns of a more varied swath of the American populace, and give more clout to rural areas that are too often ignored. And while it might help Republicans in states like Virginia, it could give Democrats a boost in states like Texas. Ideally, this new system, implemented nationally, would strengthen both parties, he claims. 

Sure, and let's remember that if this plan had been in effect, Mitt Romney would be President now.

In fact, if every state awarded its electoral votes by congressional district, it's likely that Mitt Romney would have won the 2012 presidential election despite losing the popular vote by nearly four percentage points. (According to Fix projections and data from Daily Kos Elections, Romney won at least 227 congressional districts and 24 states, giving him 275 electoral votes -- more than the 270 he needed.)

In addition, if just the five states mentioned above changed their systems, Obama's 126-electoral-vote win would have shrunk to a 34-vote win -- close enough where a different result in Florida (which Obama won by less than one point) would have tipped the 2012 race in Romney's favor.

Republicans know exactly what and why they are doing this, they are trying to steal an election where just like gerrymandered Democratic votes are stuffed into urban and minority district.  If the entire nation had implemented the Virginia plan where the 2 Senatorial electoral college votes are doled out by the winner of the most districts, Romney's victory in the above scenario would have been even larger despite losing the popular vote by 5 million.

The vote under this plan would have been exactly the same.  The difference is the winner would be whoever can steal the most House districts, which thanks to 2010 gerrymandering, would mean the GOP would be a clear favorite in 2016 and 2020.  And what would the GOP do with that power?

What do you think?

I Believe I Have Found Your Activist Judges, GOP

If this ridiculous ruling from the three Republican-appointed judges on the DC Appeals Court is allowed to stand, the Republicans can shut down the executive branch, period.  Adam Serwer at Mojo:

On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Barack Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, which regulates and oversees labor disputes, were unconstitutional. The Constitution allows the president to make temporary appointments, called recess appointments, while the Senate is on break—or recess, in DC terms. Obama did make the NRLB appointments while the Senate was on vacation. But Senate Republicans claimed that the Senate was technically still in session over their vacation because they were holding brief, minutes-long meetings over the course of the break. The three judges on the panel—all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents—agreed with the challengers. Now all the decisions Obama's NLRB appointees made since they joined the board are at risk of being invalidated.

The court's decision doesn't just affect labor law: it could also have an impact on the White House's broader economic agenda. The sweeping ruling throws into question the future of regulatory decisions made by one of the administration's most aggressive agencies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

So two executive agencies that Republicans despise are now effectively out of business as of Friday: the people that keep corporations from screwing over workers, and the people that keep banks from screwing over everybody.  That's not allowed in the Republican worldview:  people are simply resources that must be exploited for maximum profit.

Also out of business:  The President can basically no longer make recess appointments.

Friday's ruling takes the sweeping view that recess appointments made during Senate breaks, like vacations, are unconstitutional. The court found that the recess appointment power can only be used during breaks between Senate sessions—and those only happen once a year, usually over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. It also holds that the president can only make recess appointments for positions that become open during a recess—as opposed to ones that already were open. The court's position would invalidate the vast majority of recess appointments made by Republican and Democratic presidents over the course of the last century, including that of John Bolton, George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations.

In other words, recess appointments were fine until the black guy made a couple.  Somebody please come up with an argument that says otherwise, because right now as it stands, Republican judges are really just putting a black man "in his place".

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Last Call

And the nullification nonsense continues as Republicans keep trying to pick a fight with 235 years of US history.

A pair of Republican lawmakers in Mississippi have proposed a bill to keep the federal government in its place, and laying out a plan to create a Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Law, which would — well maybe you can already start to guess what the committee would do.

The bill, known as the Mississippi Balance of Powers Act, was authored by state Rep. Gary Chism (R), chairman of the House Insurance Committee, and Rep. Jeff Smith (R), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Earlier this week, the bill was referred to the House Constitution Committee. 

This is pretty much a direct, open challenge to the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, something wingers have been trying to get rid of for generations.

The neutralization committee called for in the bill would enforce “a constitutional balance of powers,” and would be made up of the lieutenant governor, six members of the state Senate appointed by the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the state House of Representatives or his designee and six members of the House of Representatives appointed by the speaker. The committee will be allowed to review “any and all existing federal statutes, mandates and executive orders for the purpose of determining their constitutionality.” Any measure that is found to be “beyond the scope and power assigned to the federal government under Article 1 of the United States Constitution or in direct violation of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890” may be recommended for neutralization by the simple majority vote of each house of the Mississippi State Legislature.

“If the Mississippi State Legislature votes by simple majority to neutralize any federal statute, mandate or executive order on the grounds of its lack of proper constitutionality, then the state and its citizens shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order,” the bill reads.

"Nope, we don't want to follow the rules of your federal government, and we've decided that we're just not going to enforce the bits we don't like.  Do something about it.  We dare you."

Like I keep saying, South Carolina tried this about 175 years ago.  Didn't work out so great for them or the country, either.

Please proceed, Mississippi.

Benjamin Netanya-Skew

Josh Marshall discovers that Bibi's pollsters had been taking a page from the Romney Reality Bubble playbook.

Much like with Mitt Romney, it seems that Benjamin Netanyahu had no idea of the electoral drubbing headed his way, despite the fact that independent pollsters very much did see it coming. Yes, you guessed it: Netanyahu’s pollsters were apparently skewing his poll data.

Haaretz has the details on some familiar-sounding confused pollsters...

On Sunday Netanyahu was still convinced his party would obtain 36-37 Knesset seats. While most of the experienced pollsters like Camil Fuchs, Dr. Mina Tzemach and Rafi Smith discerned Likud-Beiteinu’s slide toward 30 seats, Netanyahu and his partner Avigdor Lieberman were intoxicated by groundless figures with at best a flimsy connection to reality.

Team Bibi got 31 of 60 Knesset seats, just barely a majority...if they can keep it together.  What goes around, comes around, man.  Can't say I'm surprised, after all, Bibi thought it would be a good idea to back Mitt Romney...

Manchin On The Hill

To my surprise, WV Dem Sen. Joe Manchin is doing a lot more than just playing ball on universal background checks for firearms sales:  he's co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are collaborating on legislation to expand requirements on background checks to purchase firearms.

"We are working together to find an amenable background-check proposal," a Kirk staffer told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.

Proposals to increase background checks are widely popular with the public, according to polls, and are the least controversial of a number of gun-control measures proposed by President Obama. But gun-control legislation has gotten off to a rocky start because of resistance from Republicans and some red-state Democrats.

Kirk and Manchin, close friends who represent states that normally elect members from their opposite parties, could be crucial to any gun-control debate. Kirk has long backed an assault-weapons ban and is one of the most pro-gun control Republican senators. Manchin, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, has also emerged as a key player in the current gun-control debate. He's called for a wide-ranging discussion on how to cut down on gun violence, including new firearm restrictions, and on Thursday morning came out in favor of increased background checks.

Could we actually be seeing reasonable, actual, bipartisan legislation as intended?  Don't get your hopes up.  Republicans will still look to block the measure in the Senate, and I doubt any gun control measures will again, even get a vote in the House.  It's a definite way for Kirk and Manchin to get bipartisan cred without anything actually having to happen.

We'll see where this bill goes.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last Call

Republicans are starting to get serious about stealing 2016's presidential race.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia Republicans are already working on bills that do this.  The Virginia bill would give the two Senate electoral votes to the winner of the most districts, not the winner of the state.  If all six of these states had adopted the Virginia GOP plan in 2012, it would have cost President Obama 78 electoral votes by my math...which would have made Mitt Romney President despite losing the popular election by 5 million votes, and losing the popular vote in every one of these states.

So yes, when I say the GOP is trying to steal the next Presidential election, I mean just that.

Shooting Fish In A Barrel

Republicans want Democrats to take the blame for the death of gun control legislation, that's assured.  The House will never vote on meaningful firearms legislation at all (just like they simply never took a vote on the American Jobs Act) but if nothing can pass the Senate, the Democrats get the blame. 

If this legislation dies in the Senate, it's Red State Dems like Joe Manchin in WV who will kill it.

Talk of stricter gun control has stirred up a lot of unease here, a place where hunters vie for top prize (a 26-inch LED television) in the Big Buck Photo Contest, and ads for a gun-simulator game ask, “Feel like shooting something today?”

But before Senator Joe Manchin III invited a group of 15 businessmen and community leaders to lunch last week to discuss the topic, he had only a vague idea of how anxious many of his supporters were. 

“How many of you all believe that there is a movement to take away the Second Amendment?” he asked. 

About half the hands in the room went up. 

Despite his best attempts to reassure them — “I see no movement, no talk, no bills, no nothing” — they remained skeptical. “We give up our rights one piece at a time,” a banker named Charlie Houck told the senator. 

If there is a path to new gun laws, it has to come through West Virginia and a dozen other states with Democratic senators like Mr. Manchin who are confronting galvanized constituencies that view any effort to tighten gun laws as an infringement. 

As Congress considers what, if any, laws to change, Mr. Manchin has become a barometer among his colleagues, testing just how far they might be able to go without angering voters. 

And the answer will be "nowhere."  We'll here how Joe Manchin tried of course, but in the end he has to go with what his constituents tell him.  And his constituents tell him that the Kenyan Usurper is coming for their guns, and that if Joe Manchin helps him, they'll come for Joe Manchin's head in the President's place.

Maybe Manchin will surprise me.  I wouldn't count on it however.

Bending That Cost Curve

Matthew Yglesias offers up this chart of Canadian health care spending versus the United States:


 This is the chart that I think ought to dominate the conversation about public-sector health care spending in the United States, and yet it is curiously ignored. The data show government health care spending per capita in the United States and Canada. The United States spends more. And that's not more per person who gets government health insurance, it's more per resident. And yet Canada covers all its citizens, and we don't. That should be considered shocking stuff, and yet I rarely hear it mentioned.
Matt goes on to make the point that Canada leverages the power of its health care system to get the lowest prices.  The United States basically refuses to, because Big Pharma and Big Insurance wants to make money.   Canada covers all of its citizens by spending about 25% less per person.  So why aren't we using the Canadian system?

Big Pharma, Big Insurance.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Last Call

Add Virginia to the list of GOP-controlled states that voted for President Obama in 2012, with Republicans now looking to make sure they can steal the election in 2016.

A Republican-backed bill that would end Virginia’s winner-takes-all method of apportioning its 13 electoral votes in presidential elections cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday.

A Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee recommended Sen. Bill Carrico’s bill on a 3-3 party line vote Wednesday, advancing it to consideration by the GOP-dominated full committee next week. Republicans control the Senate and House in Virginia, and Gov. Bob McDonnell is a Republican.

The bill would apportion electors by congressional district to the candidate who wins each of the state’s 11 districts. The candidate who carries a majority of the districts would also win the two electors not tied to congressional districts.

Sen. Charles W. “Bill” Carrico, R-Grayson, said the change is necessary because Virginia’s populous, urbanized areas such as the Washington, D.C., suburbs and Hampton Roads can outvote rural regions such as his, rendering their will irrelevant.

Yes, it's so awful that we can't have Republican co-Presidents to represent the will of the people who lost a winner-take-all presidential election.  How terrible that in a democratic republic, a majority vote allows you to win.  We can't have that, so let's split the electoral vote specifically in a way that allows Republicans to win!

At some point this kind of nonsense has to end up in front of the Supreme Court, right?

Janie's Got A Gun, And A Rifle, And A Mortar, And...

Hello, Obama Second Term!  What have you for us today?  The Pentagon finally allowing women into combat, you say?

The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat, and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow, and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.

"We will eliminate the policy of 'no women in units that are tasked with direct combat, a senior defense official says.

But the officials caution that "not every position will open all at once on Thursday."

Once the policy is changed, Department of Defense will enter what is being called an "assessment phase," in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can. The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on how they're doing.

Well about damn time.  I know and work with several women who are veterans and have served this country admirably, and frankly it's the 21st Century anyway.   It's a volunteer military, and if you can meet the physical requirements and can do the job, then you deserve to be able to take your shot at it.

Good on you, Pentagon.

And It Continues In Earnest, Part 6

More county mounties are pledging to ignore the USURPER KENYAN REGIME of President Shabazz Guntaker X, this time near Bon's neck of the woods in Missouri.

As President Barack Obama continues to push gun control proposals in Washington D.C., Sheriff Charles M. Heiss, R-Johnson County is asking fellow law enforcers to sign and send this letter to the president.

The letter expresses concern with the Obama administration and the president’s gun control laws he laid out before Congress last week.

“It appears to me and many Americans that there is a genuine desire on the part of your administration to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law abiding American citizens in the interest of curbing gun violence in our nation,” Heiss wrote. “Any attempt to restrict these Second Amendment rights through executive order is unconstitutional and tantamount to an all-out assault on the United States Constitution.”

Gosh, I had no idea everyone was a Constitutional law scholar and Supreme Court Justice.   Trying to think when Clinton, Reagan, and Bush 41 proposed gun laws (and in Reagan and Clinton's case, passed them and signed them) if we had law enforcement officials say "Nope, screw you.  We refuse to enforce your laws."

I'm guessing no.  What's different about this President, I wonder...

Oh yeah, that's right.  He doesn't count anyway in the eyes of tens of millions, so it's okay.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Last Call

Laugh all you want to at Virginia's current GOP Attorney General and teabagger favorite for Governor in November, Ken Cuccinelli.  Yes, he's an ignorant fool, invoking the name of Dr. King in his war on birth control...

On Monday, MLK Day, Cuccinelli again made the comparison between his fight against the federal requirement that birth control be offered with no copay by insurance plans to King’s fight for equal rights for African Americans. Cuccinelli earned some headlines earlier this month when he told an Iowa show that opponents of the mandate need to be prepared to “go to jail” in protest of the law. (He later tried to walk that back a bit.)

Cuccinelli was asked Monday about the controversy on The John Fredericks Show, a conservative talk show in Virginia. He was shocked Democrats would raise the issue, casting the battle as a struggle for rights rather than an attack on contraception.

“Whenever I talk about religious liberty, you know they turn it around. All they talk about -they don’t talk about denying religious liberty. They talk about contraception. And I’m not talking about contraception. Government doesn’t have a role in contraception,” Cuccinelli told the radio show. “Government does have a role in protecting your civil rights especially today on MLK Day. The man who really came up with the American non-violent protest theory of civil disobedience. It’s pretty egregious that they can’t get any higher than contraception when we’re talking about protecting people’s religious liberty.”

...but even in a three way race he could very well win.

Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are in a dead heat in their race to be Virginia's next governor, even if Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling runs as an independent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, gets 40 percent to 39 percent for Cuccinelli, with one in five voters saying they are undecided. That compares to McAuliffe's 41 - 37 percent margin in a November 14 matchup by the independent Quinnipiac University poll.

If Republican Bolling were to run as an independent, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli would get 34 percent each and Bolling would garner 13 percent. The three-way choice was not offered in November. 

We'll see.

Roe v. Wade Turns 40

The Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in America was handed down 40 years ago today, and a new poll on the subject of abortion finds that there's a growing backlash against Republicans legislating clinics out of business at the state level.

According to the poll, 54 percent of adults say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time, while a combined 44 percent said it should be illegal – either with or without exceptions.

That’s the first time since this poll question was first asked in 2003 that a majority maintained that abortion should be legal. Previously (with just one exception in 2008), majorities said abortion should be illegal.

In addition, a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned, including 57 percent who feel strongly about this.

That’s up from the 58 percent who said the decision shouldn’t be overturned in 1989; the 60 percent who said this in 2002; and the 66 percent who said this in 2005.

By comparison, just 24 percent now want the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, including 21 percent who feel strongly about this position.

Much of this change, the NBC/WSJ pollsters say, is coming from African Americans, Latinos and women without college degrees -- all of whom increasingly oppose the Supreme Court decision being overturned.

The GOP War on Women has profoundly affected the debate, mainly by reminding everyone that reproductive choice rights can and will be taken from all women if left up to Republicans.  No longer are Americans taking those rights and access to clinics for granted.  The winger side is making this a battle every step of the way, and that's galvanized the pro-choice side into actually fighting back...and winning.

Mostly, it's the passage of time.  Many women (and men!) though birth control and reproductive choice was a done issue.  Nobody's making that mistake now.

Senator Turtle Hides In His Shell

My senator, Mitch McConnell, wants you to fear the President...and maybe even do something based on that irrational fear.

In an email sent to his supporters on Sunday night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned that the President and his Democratic allies were planning to take Americans’ guns away.

“You and I are literally surrounded,” McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton wrote. “The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment.”

The email falsely claimed President Barack Obama planned to issue 23 executive orders “to get your guns.” Obama plans to nominate a director for the ATF and direct the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes of gun violence, among other executive actions. None of the executive orders he outlined last week involve anything remotely like gun confiscation.

“The gun-grabbers are in full battle mode,” Benton continued. “And they are serious. What’s at stake? There are almost too many schemes to list.”

It doesn't matter that President Obama is not taking guns away from anyone.  But why would Mitch tell the truth about the President's proposals?  He's running for re-election in 2014. And apparently, the only platform he feels he can run on is fear, paranoia, and rancor.

In other words, he's a Republican.  News flash, right?  If there's one thing that President Obama's second term truly means, it's four more years of unhinged Republicans deep into the paranoid style, pitching Obama Derangement Syndrome.

It's all they ever had, of course.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Call

The speech was amazing.  On Martin Luther King Day, the nation's first African-American president made the progressive case for government.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries - we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

And Chuck Pierce with the best reaction to it.

The speech was a bold refutation of almost everything the Republican party has stood for over the past 40 years. It was a loud — and, for this president, damned near derisive — denouncement of all the mindless, reactionary bunkum that the Republicans have come to stand for in 2013; you could hear the sound of the punch he landed on the subject of global warming halfway to Annapolis. But the meat of the speech was a brave assertion of the power of government, not as an alien entity, but as an instrument of the collective will and desires of a self-governing people. 
We are not free because we are individuals, the president told them, daring them to hold two ideas in their heads at a time without their brains leaking out of their ears. We are free because, as individuals we work together in the creative act of self-government to produce a viable political commonwealth in which that freedom can thrive and prosper, and the primary instrument of that commonwealth is the government we devise out of it. That government must be allowed to function. That government must be allowed to operate for this freedom to be generally achieved.
We will wait and see, of course, what happens once the scaffolding and the bunting comes down, bearing in mind always the scriptural caution about faith without works being dead. But, for an afternoon, anyway, a Democratic president reclaimed the language of freedom from those for whom it means merely lower taxes and more guns. He reclaimed government as a manifestation of a country's aspirations, and not as an anchor on its progress. And he refuted, with precision and neatly camouflaged contempt, many of the most destructive ideas that have poisoned out politics for nearly four decades now. He did nothing less than redefine patriotism in a progressive way. That is already bothering  all of the right people. This, I tell you, is what gives me hope.

Amen to all of that.  Game is on now.  The President dropped a huge marker here.  He won.  And he's acting like it.

On The Next Night Court...

It's funny how in the blink of an eye, law-and-order minded wingers have gone from screaming about the need for mandatory sentencing, three strikes laws, and giving prosecutors the power to actually deal with those who break the law, to now that firearm legislation is the question of the day, yelling that America's various district attorneys and prosecutors are power-hungry pocket dictators.  Col. Mustard references Instadoofus:

Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process — the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what — is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today’s society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.

What follows is six pages of somnolent paranoia (itself quite a feat) that boils down to "Gubment is going to use prosecutors to steal your soul" followed by "let's do everything we can to make sure the broken criminal justice system is shattered to pieces so we can blame liberals and government, and then privatize the whole deal."

The whole thing is an exercise in Reynolds's usual glibertarian nonsense, where because government cannot be perfect, we have to scrap it in favor of free market everything.  Please note that most prosecutors are government employees, and trial lawyers are of course hired guns, so of course prosecutors are now the epitome of evil, with lots of hand-wringing over Jason Swartz and David Gregory.

Reynolds actually uses the words "skin in the game" and "loser pays" in his kit bag of snake oil remedies, which tells you just how much thought he's put into it.  We've gotten to the point where "Prosecutors should only bring cases they are sure to win or they'll be wasting taxpayer dollars!" as the solution to criminalization.

Where were these guys when New Jack City era drug laws in the 90's thought every black guy in the system was Nino Brown and the mass incarceration of minorities began in earnest?  Prosecutorial discretion was never a problem until the issue of actually enforcing gun regulations on the books became an issue, and especially wasn't an issue until President Obama proposed background checks and enforcing them.

Funny how that works.

An Old Gun Fighter Speaks

Doug Mataconis makes the case that Democrats should at least heed Big Dog's advice and keep in mind that pissing off the bitter clingers isn't going to help get anything passed.

If there’s any Democrat in the United States who has experience in taking on America’s gun owners and the Second Amendment, it’s Bill Clinton. Mere weeks before the 1994 Presidential Election, the United States Congress passed, and Clinton signed, a controversial Assault Weapons Ban. Indeed, while the conventional wisdom continues to hold that the primary motivation behind the massive Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional Elections was due in large part to the President’s failed effort at health care reform, many political observers have contended for years that it was the Administration’s push on the Assault Weapons Ban, and the political backlash that it unleashed from the National Rifle Association and other groups, that played the most significant role in the tidal wave that handed control of both Houses of Congress to the Republican Party.

I'm going to have to say that I disagree with that.  I still think "HillaryCare" did it, not to mention the House Post Office scandal.  The Dems were headed to defeat long before the Violent Crime Control and Prevention Act passed.  Let's remember that the bill passed the House with a number of Republicans you might recognize:  John Kasich, Jon Kyl, Illena Ros-Lehtinen, Olympia Snowe, 46 of them in all.  In the Senate, seven Republican broke ranks, including Arlen Specter and Nancy Kessebaum, as well as Linc Chafee.  Too many Republicans signed up for the bill for it to be the reason why the Dems were wiped out.

As far as Clinton's advice goes, Doug's take:

Clinton injects a little bit of political reality into the post-Newtown gun control conversation. The “gun culture” of which many gun control activists so derisively speak isn’t just limited to the South. It’s a strong force in the Midwest, especially among hunters, and in the west. Indeed, even in California there area millions of people who own guns and who would resist any effort to take those guns away. We live in a nation were that are nearly as many firearms in the open market as there are people. That suggests the very simply idea that draconian gun control laws are, for the most part, not going to succeed in taking significant action to restrict Second Amendment rights because of the legislative power that the so-called “gun lobby” can bring to bear. Results will vary from state to state, of course, but nationally it seems fairly clear to me that America’s gun owners and those of us, such as myself, who still support the right of American citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, remain a force to be reckoned with. As Bill Clinton told his fellow Democrats, that’s something the advocates of further gun control ought to keep in mind.

Except for the fact that what President Obama has proposed isn't at all "significant action to restrict the Second Amendment."  It's being called that, and in fact has been called that for four years when President Obama was actually making it easier to obtain weapons, so much so that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rated him an across-the-board "F".   Much like "Obama is weak on immigration enforcement and national security" when the facts were completely the opposite, the notion that Obama is a gun grabber is complete nonsense.

If somebody can show me where President Obama is proposing to take guns away from people who already lawfully own them, that's different.  He has done nothing of the sort.

StupidiNews, MLK Day Edition!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last Call

Yes America, Republicans think you are this stupid.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Sunday that he does not believe President Obama’s gun-control proposals will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Barrasso said election worries among Democrats will sideline legislation that could restrict gun ownership.

Obama has called on Congress to institute universal background checks for all gun sales as well as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other items.

“I don’t think Sen. Harry Reid [D-Nev.] even brings it to the Senate floor because he has six Democrats up for election in two years in states where the president received fewer than 42 percent of the votes,” Barrasso said. “He doesn’t want his Democrats to have to choose between their own constituents and the president’s positions.”

Don't blame us when gun laws fail, blame Red State Blue Dog Dems!   Nice try, Tom.  But America knows who to blame for constant, near total opposition:  Republicans.

President Obama knows what he's doing here:  the will of the American people.
Related Posts with Thumbnails