Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last Call

Rand Paul is filibustering the nomination of CIA head John Brennan over drones.  And I mean an active, talking filibuster.

Republican Rand Paul stiff-armed President Barack Obama’s CIA nomination Wednesday, drawing support from fellow senators concerned about the administration’s refusal to rule out drone strikes on US soil.

With the blocking tactic stretching into it’s sixth hour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to bring Paul’s filibuster to a close, but the freshman from Kentucky refused, continuing his hold on any Senate action as he railed against US policy on targeted killings.

Paul said he would be happy to yield “if the president or the attorney general will clarify that they are not going to kill non-combatants in America.”

The drone issue gained fresh currency on Capitol Hill with senators from both parties pressing US Attorney General Eric Holder on whether the administration believes such drone attacks could be justified.

Paul began by saying he will “speak until I can no longer speak,” and demanding answers from President Barack Obama on the secret unmanned aerial drone program that has emerged as the most contentious element of John Brennan’s nomination to head the spy agency.

Paul has drafted a number of Republicans to assist him in this tactic, and they're happy to keep blocking Senate business until they get what they want, or Brennan resigns from the nomination, or both.   But given Rand Paul's curious position on civil liberties when it comes to voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of the poor, hearing him prattle on about a theoretical death by fiat when the prison culture and the gun culture and the rape culture and the corporate greed culture in this country condemn thousands upon thousands to death daily without due process...

Well I don't particularly care for the man.

Perspective is needed, and I don't see a lot of it out there.  Let's remember that in addition to his "heroic" position on drones, Rand Paul happily voted against VAWA, the Paycheck Fairness Act, Hurricane Sandy aid, the fiscal cliff deal, and against using funds to transfer detainees so we could eventually close Gitmo.  He's actively spoken out against the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.  He's against any form of gun violence prevention legislation.

But Rand Paul is an okay guy because drones?

No.  He's not.  He's a Republican playing the game, and it seems the regular suspects are falling for it again, those "liberals" who think Barack Obama is a bigger threat than, well, Rand Paul.

The Next Fight In The Eternal Combat

With the sequestration detonation firmly ruining the economy, the GOP is moving on to the government shutdown fight at the end of the month, and they're playing their cards early.

A group of House Republicans said Tuesday that a bill to fund the federal government should include provisions targeting the contraception mandate in President Obama's healthcare law.

GOP lawmakers reintroduced a bill Tuesday to repeal the contraception mandate. They also pressed their party's leaders to roll back the provision as part of a continuing resolution later this month to keep the federal government operating.

"This attack on religious freedom demands immediate congressional action," the 14 lawmakers wrote. "Nothing short of a full exemption for both nonprofit and for-profit entities will satisfy the demands of the Constitution and common sense."

And nothing short of a repeal of the entire Obama administration and the resignation of all Democrats everywhere will satisfy the demands of the Tea Party nutjobs.   I expect Orange Julius will sweep this under the rug, but the pile he's already got under said rug (fiscal cliff deal, VAWA) may be too high for him to do so.

Besides, Sen. Ted Cruz appears to be willing to shut down the country in order to defund Obamacare anyway, so Boehner may be off the hook.

On the other hand, if the GOP really, reeeeeeeally wants to shut down the government over birth control (because the War on Women worked so very well for them in 2012) then go right ahead, gentlemen.

We could really use that Democratic House in 2014.

We Come Not To Praise Hugo Chavez...

...but to bury him, as Zack Beauchamp reminds us.  Deep, deep underground preferably, because the guy really was a despot and a tyrant, not to mention an actual anti-Semite.  I know that term gets thrown around a lot, but he really did go after Venezuelan Jews as political and social enemies of the state and did nothing to stop the rise of that awful garbage in his populist bullying wake.

While even Chavez’s critics admit that he did attempt to address the plight of Venezuela’s poorest, the decline in economic inequality in Venezuela reflected a broader egalitarian trend in Latin America, and can’t be fully credited to Chavez’s policies. However, Chavez’ policies harmed Venezuela’s poorest in other ways: the value of the Venezuelan currency dropped while prices soared, making it harder for people to buy basic necessities, and crime skyrocketed.

Moreover, Chavez hurt the vulnerable in Venezuela in other ways. Chavez’s state-run media hounded Venezuela’s small, beleaguered Jewish population — he himself once said “Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by those wandering Jews.” A study released by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University found that Chavez’s rule “witnessed a rise in antisemitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.” Indeed, roughly half of Venezuelan Jews fled the country because of “the social and economic chaos that the president has unleashed and from the uncomfortable feeling that they were being specifically targeted by the regime.”

Chavez also attacked Venezuela’s democratic political system. Human Rights Watch reported in 2012 that “the accumulation of power in the executive and the erosion of human rights protections have allowed the Ch├ívez government to intimidate, censor, and prosecute critics and perceived opponents in a wide range of cases involving the judiciary, the media, and civil society.” Contra Serrano, Venezuela’s elections were not certified as “free and fair” by international monitors of late: Chavez had not allowed international election monitors to observe Venezuelan elections since 2006.

Absolute best case, Chavez was a terrible leader whose reign caused untold damage among the Venezuelan people.  Worst case?  Glad the guy's in the ground.

He won't be missed.

StupidiNews!

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