Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Last Call

And as I predicted long ago, Senate Republicans have filibustered the gun bill.

The Senate delivered a devastating blow to President Obama’s agenda to regulate guns Wednesday by defeating a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks.

It failed by a vote of 54 to 46, with five Democrats voting against it. Only four Republicans supported it.

Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor (Ark.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) voted against it. Reid supported the measure but voted against it to preserve his ability to bring the measure up again.

GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) voted "yes."

With 41 of the 45 GOP senators voting against it, it didn't matter what the Democrats did.  And so the GOP blocks yet another bill that a majority of Americans wanted to pass.  Republican senators simply don't have anything to fear from voting against gun control, but everything to fear from voting for it.

Gabby Giffords penned this op-ed today, calling out these folks.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them. 

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

The reality is the NRA will handsomely reward the GOP senators who killed this bill, and they will use that money to buy ads calling their Democratic opponents tyrants and socialists and they will win.  They will win in states like Texas and South Carolina and Kansas and Mississippi and Wyoming and Kentucky and they will win easily because voters in those states are simply not interested in punishing senators for voting against President Obama's "gun grab".

Until that changes, Gabby Giffords can write as many op-eds as she likes.  Voters in red states just don't give a damn.  The President today called this round one.  The fight will take a long time.  But nothing's going to change until the lock on red states is cracked open.

Better A Racist Than A Pedophile Be, Apparently

It is a relentlessly cold and bitter country we live in when the defense of a Texas schoolteacher against a complaint that she fondled a seven-year old black girl in her class is basically "I'm proudly racist and I would never sully my hands to touch one of them."

A first-grade teacher at an Humble prep school cited her racial prejudice against black students in denying allegations that she fondled a girl in her classroom last month, according to court records.
Esther Irene Stokes, 61, of Montgomery, was charged with indecency with a child April 10, court records show.
The 7-year-old student told police that Stokes, her teacher at Northwest Preparatory Academy Charter School, sent all the students out of the classroom and touched her on her "private part" on the outside of her clothes on March 1, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.
Humble police met with Stokes after she failed a polygraph examination. Stokes denied touching the girl "on any part of her body," prosecutors said.
"The defendant stated that she doesn't like black students because she was prejudiced," the complaint states. She told police that "she does not like the complainant" and has "very little to no interaction" with her.

Well, that makes things perfectly okay, right?  I mean from a hideously cynical standpoint, people don't spend long stretches in prison, have to register with law enforcement for the rest of their lives, and have to get special license plates for being bigoted racists.  It has the additional bonus of not actually being that bad to some people, unlike sexually abusing a child, a repulsive and universally reviled act by civilized humans.

The fact we have a teacher of small children invoking this particular social calculus is hideous, frankly.  What kind of human being, much less a person employed to shape the minds of young kids, decides "Well, this is a great idea for getting out of this sex offender thing, I'll just say I'm a racist.  Score!"  What's the lesson here for a first grader?  As a parent of a child in that class, or in that prep school, or of a child that age at all, how do you possibly explain that story to your kids?

In school I had an older white teacher in her 60's when I was in 2nd grade.  I grew up in a medium-sized town in western North Carolina.  She was my first real introduction in 1981 to institutionalized racism.  She thought I was a disrespectful little moron, that I should be held back, that I was stupid.  In reality I was bored out of my mind because I was spending seven hours a day being taught stuff I had already figured out (even back then I was the biggest nerd in the county.)

A gifted black kid was a Rodent of Unusual Size to her because we simply didn't exist.  So she made my life hell, marking my math answers wrong when they weren't, holding me up as an example of someone who was lazy and awful, putting me in the corner for misbehaving all the time when all I really did was sat there and tried to reconcile what the heck was going on.  My parents had told me to listen to my teachers, that they were there to help me, but this one wasn't doing so at all.

It was only after I told my dad that I got a D on a math test and I showed it to him that he figured it out.  He saw the answers were correct and marked wrong anyway.  My teacher assumed my parents were just as "lazy" as I was and that they weren't too bright either and would just simply accept it.  Fortunately for me, the complete opposite happened and the situation was rectified in near-record time.  I was lucky and still am.  She retired soon after.

And yet that year of struggle I went through was nothing compared to this poor girl being fondled by someone she was supposed to be able to trust, and then seeing her teacher claim racism as an excuse.  You have to be a soul-free husk in order to pull something like that.  It's 2013, and we're still committing these awful acts.

How can anyone do that?

Appalachian Trailing His Opponent

Will someone tell Mark Sanford's campaign staff that the last person out needs to shut off the lights after this nonsense?

A lawyer says ex-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford trespassed at his ex-wife's home and he has been ordered to appear in court two days after his special congressional election.

Documents acquired by The Associated Press Tuesday say Jenny Sanford confronted her ex-husband leaving her South Carolina home on Feb. 3. Her attorney filed a complaint the next day and she confirms the documents are authentic.

In them, she says he was using his cellphone as a flashlight as he left.

The couple's divorce settlement says neither may enter the other's home without permission.

And he's done, folks.   At this rate, Elizabeth Colbert Busch will win by 20 in one of the most blood red districts in the country.  Even if he wins, he should immediately resign.

And he's not going to win.  Not after this.

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