Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Last Call For The War Of The Oranges

And John Boehner and the House GOP lose yet another debt ceiling battle, this time with a complete victory for the White House.

The House passed a yearlong suspension of the Treasury’s debt limit Tuesday in a vote that left Republicans once again ceding control to Democrats, following a collapse in support for an earlier proposal advanced by GOP leaders.

In a narrow vote, 221-201, 28 Republicans voted with 193 Democrats to approve a “clean” extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority — one without strings attached — sending the legislation to the Senate for a posssible final vote later this week. Two Democrats and 199 Republicans voted no.

The vote came two weeks before the Feb. 27 debt-limit deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and once again underscored the House leadership’s inability to corral Republicans behind a debt-ceiling plan. “The natural reluctance is obvious,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chief deputy whip. 

The Tea Party is not happy about this, you know, complete and utter defeat thing.

Conservative advocacy groups reacted negatively to Boehner’s plan to bring the clean bill to a vote, with spokesmen for Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth urging members to vote “no” and including the vote on their scorecards, which serve as guides for their supporters. “When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt-ceiling increase, we thought it was a joke,” said Barney Keller, a Club for Growth adviser. “But it’s not. Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party.”

The Senate Conservatives Fund, an outspoken tea-party group, blasted Boehner for his eleventh-hour decision in an e-mail, saying “Boehner must be replaced.” They also launched a petition seeking to encourage at least 15 House Republicans to refuse to support Boehner for speaker -- a move that would deprive him of a majority of the House.

Robert Costa, now at the Washington Post, recounts Boehner telling the Tea Party to go to hell:

The scene happened Tuesday morning at the Capitol Hill Club, where House Republicans had gathered for a private breakfast.

After listening to a handful of colleagues flatly discuss fundraising strategy for 30 minutes, Boehner stood up, walked past dozens of sleepy, coffee-sipping Republicans and tersely woke up the room with an update.

“Listen – we’re going to move forward,” Boehner said. Instead of bringing up the leadership’s plan, which would link a restoration of recently cut military benefits to a debt-ceiling extension, he would push a “clean” bill, averting default more than two weeks before the Treasury Department’s debt-limit deadline.

We’re going to get this done,” Boehner continued, according to several people present for his remarks. No strings attached, he added. He said he was going stop reaching for votes on the plan, an effort that had stalled on Monday. And he wasn’t going to even think of floating another proposal. He was going to do what he thought was best for the GOP, in spite of the widespread angst.

So now we're at the point where the Tea Party either must replace Boehner, or admit they have no power.  Make your move, boys.  I'll bring the popcorn.

The GOP internal civil war is now truly on.

My Frenemy Claire

Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill isn't beating around the bush when asked if she would be seen with President Obama this year if she had to run in this election cycle:  her answer is of course, "Probably not."

McCaskill was asked during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if she would campaign alongside Obama if she were running in red states like Louisiana, North Carolina or Arkansas.

"Probably not," McCaskill said. "I mean, I try to be really candid and honest on this show. The President's numbers are not strong in my state or in Arkansas or Louisiana or North Carolina. He did not win those states when he ran for re-election in 2012."

But McCaskill said the Democratic incumbents running for re-election in the aforementioned states — Mark Pryor (AR), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Kay Hagan (NC) — can still win, and she dismissed the notion that avoiding Obama on the campaign trail matters to voters.

"I think this issue of whether or not you have Obama come to your state is something we like to focus on in Washington, but probably is not that important when you get out to these states," McCaskill said.

Yeah, right. Somebody tell Alison Lundergan Grimes that.  Barack who?

Barriers Have To Be Broken For A Reason

Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that NFL draft hopeful and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam of Missouri, who announced this week that he is gay, is going to have to force change upon the NFL and its culture because otherwise, they will never be "ready" for an openly gay player.

In that sense he will be challenging  a deep and discrepant mythology of who is capable of inflicting violence and who isn't. Last week, Jonathan Vilma speculated about how he might feel if a gay teammate saw him naked:
Imagine if he's the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?
What undergirds this logic is a fear of being made into a woman, which is to say a fear of being regarded sexually by someone who is as strong as, or stronger than, you. Implicit to the fear is the gay player's ability to do violence. It exists right alongside a belief that the gay player is a "sissy." ("Grown men should not have female tendencies. Period," Vilma once tweeted.) The logic is kin to the old Confederate belief that Southern slaves were so loyal and cowardly yet they must never be given guns.

The mythology Jonathan Vilma endorses will not fade through vague endorsements of "tolerance," lectures on "acceptance," nor any other species of heartfelt magic. The question which we so often have been offered—is the NFL ready for a gay player?—is backwards. Powerful interests are rarely "ready" for change, so much as they are assaulted by it. We refer to barriers being "broken" for a reason. The reason is not because great powers generally like to unbar the gates and hold a picnic in the honor of the previously excluded. The NFL has no moral right to be "ready" for a gay player, which is to say it has no right to discriminate against gay men at its leisure which anyone is bound to respect.

So yes, it's as much about race as it is his sexual orientation, and this battle is going to be pretty ugly.  But Nancy Goldstein makes the argument that the biggest problem for Sam won't be players like Jonathan Vilma, but the NFL front offices and teams.

If public response thus far is any indication, Sam’s problem won’t be the other players in the NFL. It’s going to be, as former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe tweeted, the folks in the front office. While congratulations from Sam’s teammates, other athletes, and well-wishers flooded Twitter (his account drew 18,000 new followers less than an hour after the news broke), the eight NFL executives and coaches who spoke with Sports Illustrated on condition of anonymity were decidedly less optimistic.

"I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet," said an NFL player personnel assistant, adding, “It'd chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.” An NFL assistant coach called Sam's decision "not a smart move,” saying that it "legitimately affects [his] potential earnings." A former general manager alleged that his concerns were rooted in avoiding a possible media circus that might distract attention from the game: “Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, 'Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'" Every single one of them agreed that Sam’s announcement would cause him to drop in this May’s draft, and today’s news that Sam fell 70 points on CBS’s draft prospect board overnight indicate an early negative response to his announcement. 

Collectively, this is a sad prophecy. But if it comes true, it’ll be a self-fulfilling one set in motion by the homophobia of the NFL’s front office.

What this says to me is that very few people in the NFL want to be the person fired by the owner when Michael Sam "ruins" their team's season.  Anything less than a Super Bowl victory is going to be blamed on Sam and his "negative effect on the locker room".

They're cowards, of course.  But in the end, the cowards always lose.


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