Praise be to Judge Antonin Scalia, for he sees what the rest of us do not. The man for whom nasty, brutish and short is not simply a political formulation, but a mirror image, can look at hundreds of years of slavery, 100 more of legalised segregation and another 50 of daily discrimination and see "racial entitlement" in the basic right to vote in America. I guess it's kind of like the right-wing-clown entitlement enjoyed by our current Supreme Court.
Scalia, of course, was a modern Republican (in a robe) before it was even cool. I mean that in the sense that it's clear to anyone taking so much as a gander at what animates the GOP of 2013 - as well as Scalia's immunity to legal reasoning - that it's not any set of policy ideas, but simple emotion: all-consuming, blood-curdling, vein-bulging-out-of-the-forehead, Mel Gibson-watching-Fiddler-On-The-Roof ANGER.
Policy-wise, the GOP is an entity that literally lacks any new ideas, has no interest in governing and has rejected all of its own policy positions from as recently as early 2008 as "oh-my-God-we're-all-doomed!" creeping Socialism (see: cap and trade, earned-income tax credit, individual healthcare mandate). Rejecting anything right wingers sneeringly see as created by them-there libruls is the secret handshake of modern conservatism.
You believe in global warming? Then they don't, dang it! You accept that human beings didn't ride saddleback on a brachiosaurus into the Battle of Little Bighorn? They have an App for that, the Creation Museum, where you can ride Noah's Ark with your friendly Triassic-period imperial walker. You offer them way-too-friendly a deal on the budget? Then as Cartman from South Park says, "screw you guys... I'm going home".
The most potent example is the rise and fall of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as conservative heartthrob. He was a Republican Superhero just a year ago, when he headlined what Republican consultant Steve Schmidt called "The Star Wars Bar" of conservative gatherings, the CPAC Conference. Yet, he was quite publicly not invited to this year's CPAC.
What is the state of the union when a madman can come within a whisker of assassinating a member of Congress? When his rantings and ravings and drug use don't stop him from getting a high-capacity magazine? When a sophomore in high school can show up to school with a gun in his backpack, and accidentally shoot two of his classmates?
I'm not sure, but I know I'd really like to hear President Obama address this during his SOTU address--without platitudes, but with an actual plan of action. One which might include demanding that the Senate confirm his nominee to run the ATF forthwith, fixing gaps in government databases of mental health and criminal records, requiring states to share data on those who have been deemed mentally unfit, questioning the intelligence of selling high-capacity magazines to just anyone, allowing concealed carry without a permit, as Arizona and two other states do, wondering whether those with firearms should just be able to meander up next to their member of Congress, and closing loopholes that allow the crazed and criminal to get guns at gun shows while firmly ensconced on terrorist watch lists.
Oh yeah, it would also mean he is FAR to the Right of that key element in our democracy known as the American People:
"Large majorities of Americans agree with the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to own guns, and Americans strongly oppose efforts to ban handguns," said Bob Carpenter, vice president of American Viewpoint, the Republican polling firm that joined with Democratic firm Momentum Analysis to conduct the survey. "But Americans and gun owners feel with equal fervor that government must act to get every single record in the background-check system that belongs there and to ensure that every gun sale includes a background check. Most Americans view these goals, protecting gun rights for the law-abiding and keeping guns from criminals, as compatible."
Some findings from the poll results, provided exclusively to The Huffington Post:
-- 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abusers and others from buying guns.
-- 91 percent of Americans and 93 percent of gun owners support requiring federal agencies to share information about suspected dangerous persons or terrorists to prevent them from buying guns.
-- 89 percent of Americans and 89 percent of gun owners support full funding of the law a unanimous Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed after the Virginia Tech shootings to put more records in the background-check database.
-- 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.
Closing the so-called "terror gap" has particularly strong support. A 2010 Government Accountability Office report found that during the past six years, individuals on the terror watchlist were able to buy firearms or explosives from licensed U.S. dealers 1,119 times.
The NRA has opposed bipartisan legislation closing the gap on the grounds that the list is flawed -- some individuals are put on the list by mistake, while many who pose legitimate threats are never added.
But this position puts the NRA far to the right of even its members. A survey last year by conservative pollster Frank Luntz found that 82 percent of NRA members supported "prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns." Eighty-six percent agreed with the statement that the country can "do more to stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them."
This folks, is about whether we want democracy by ballot or intimidation by bullet. It goes to the very heart of who we are and want to be, and it is most certainly an issue of National Security--or security for our democracy. Lets hope President Obama does the right thing.
You know, you gotta figure that if every Republican and all the Villagers are in agreement that taking up immigration reform is a bad idea for Democrats, then -- reverse barometers being the valuable tools they are -- there's high likelihood that it's a good idea.
One Democratic aide close to the issue noted that in the wake of Graham’s abandoning negotiations, Schumer is continuing to meet with a handful of Senate Republican lawmakers — Scott Brown (Mass.), George LeMieux (Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Dick Lugar (Ind.) — and that the summary is part of a dual-track alternative for moving forward.
According to this aide, under the new alternative, if Republicans continue to reject bipartisan overtures, Reid, Schumer and Menendez would look to have a handful of other top Democrats co-sponsor the legislation, including Durbin and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the second ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
Menendez said his preference would be to have Republican support, but that it was more important to have a framework that can be publicly distributed so that Senators “can begin the debate and move the process forward.” Menendez said he was still optimistic that the chamber could pass a bill this year, even though no Republicans have indicated they might support a bill.
“If we put our effort to it, and we have presidential leadership and we have Republicans who truly want to see immigration reform versus just talk about it, I think it’s possible,” Menendez said.
Senate Democrats’ decision to move forward on their own drew applause from Hispanic lawmakers in the House, who have seized on Arizona’s tough new state immigration law to ramp up the pressure for the Senate to act on a comprehensive bill this year.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) described the proposal Senate Democrats floated Wednesday as a “responsible bill that basically reflects the principles that were discussed with Lindsey Graham.”
“It is the kind of bill that could be supported by any Republican who truly believes that the broken system should be fixed,” Velázquez said. “So it is time to stop playing politics with this issue and do the work the American people sent us to do here.”
We're hearing that a press conference announcing the bill is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. EDT in D.C. today. We'll keep it covered.
The Arizona craziness is a good example of why we can't let comprehensive immigration reform wait.
We know that lots of Democrats, especially the Blue Dogs, want to put immigration reform on the back burner till after the 2010 election. After all, it's the kind of issue that defines them: Blue Dogs always pander to conservatives on key issues, because they think that wins them more votes in the end than standing up for core principles.
It's also apparent, from these results and from polling, that the nativists' "deport them all" immigration policy is wildly unpopular -- and that, moreover, Americans in fact take a pragmatic view of immigration: They're not interested in shipping out illegal immigrants, they're interested in seeing them become legal citizens.
The evidence is that voters get behind progressives who talk straight common sense on immigration -- as opposed to the fearmongering and scapegoating inherent in the Arizona Republican approach, which inevitably leads to the institution of a police state and the destruction of families.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats beat back Jeff Sessions’ filibuster of Obama’s first judicial nominee – Judge David Hamilton – by a reassuring margin of 70-29. Sessions lost ten of his fellow Republicans, including conservatives like Hatch, Cornyn, and Thune, and Hamilton will be confirmed Thursday afternoon to the Seventh Circuit.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the GOP is winning the battle for the federal courts.
Just a few short years ago, right-wing Senators denounced filibusters of President Bush’s nominees in the strongest possible language and threatened to employ the “nuclear option.” Sessions went even further – he claimed Democrats were violating the Constitution by blocking any Bush nominee (no matter how extreme). But some time after November 4, 2008, his interpretation of the Constitution must have changed dramatically.
Now a Democrat is in the White House, and – hypocrisy be damned! – Sessions is vehemently pro-filibuster and pro-obstruction. And the worst part is that he’s been successful. Judge Hamilton was nominated in March to general acclaim. He received the highest possible rating from the ABA, both his home-state Senators strongly endorsed him (including senior Senate Republican Dick Lugar), and even the head of the Indianapolis Federalist Society backed him. It doesn’t get much better than that.
But the nomination was dragged out for months by the GOP. As a result, Hamilton will become just the seventh Obama nominee to be confirmed to the federal bench. By contrast, nearly 30 such Bush nominees had been confirmed at the same point. We’re talking lifetime appointments to the highest courts in our land. President Obama obviously has his hands full, but he can’t afford to neglect this crucial aspect of his legacy.
But so far, Obama has been playing into the hands of the GOP obstructionists. He’s nominated fewer than half as many people as Bush had at this point. That has got to change, and quickly. The Obama administration has a window of just 4-5 months to return some semblance of balance to the federal bench before the mid-term elections. The choice is simple: act now to fill the judicial pipeline with highly qualified progressive nominees, or let Sessions and Bush win.
So last week the Thune Amendment was thankfully defeated. A group I work with, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, took on the task of defeating this insane legislation, which only had a chance of passing due to the extremism of the NRA/Birther crowd and the ever-present cowardice of the usual Blue Dog Democrats.
I guess they weren't busy enough trying to destroy health care reform or climate-change legislation, so overriding state laws trying to prevent criminals from enjoying the right to concealed carry seemed like a good idea.
Thankfully, the NRA lost a gun battle for the first time in five years, but no thanks to squeamish Blue-Dog Democrats. Take Colorado Democratic Senators Udall and Bennet, for example. They waited to the end to vote, as if calculating which way to go right up until the last possible moment, and then voted with the gun nuts. Interestingly, two Republicans from generally pro-gun states, Senators George Voinovich of Ohio and Dick Lugar of Indiana, didn't feel a need to cave to the Bonkers Wing of the GOP. Nor did some other Democrats from pro-gun states, like Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
In response, a Columbine dad, who suffered what is the nightmare scenario for all of us with children in school, decided to remind these two men about what is and is not leadership in today's Denver Post. It says everything that needs to be said on this issue, as well as a host of others the Blue Dogs continue to practice duck & cover.
Sadly, the biggest threat to rational legislating right now is not from Republicans, who are and should be irrelevant, but from Blue Dogs. These people need to be taught not to fear their big contributors, but We The People.
(**As I stated in the piece, I am working with Mayors Against Illegal Guns.)
Two Republicans close to the situation say McCain has apparently settled on Mitt Romney as his running mate. [..]
Nice Drudgian touch at the end, Mark. Of course, Halperin pulled down the page saying that the Veep was going to be Dick Lugar just a little bit before, which appeared to be based on nothing more Lugar endorsing McCain. Brilliant. Obviously, still wishing to not blow his "MSM Maker of Conventional Wisdom" title, Halperin updated with this weasel:
NY Times: "People close to the [McCain] campaign also floated a wild-card choice, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq."
Give me a break. Either report the news as it happens or start calling yourself Miss Cleo. This wild guessing is insulting to our intelligence.
Sorry, but my video file crashed so I can't post it, but Republican Sen. Dick Lugar-is concerned also as he appeared with Blitzer today.
Blitzer: So you want hearings? You want hearings?
Lugar: I do. I think this is an appropriate time, without going back and should the president have ever tried to listen to a call coming from Afghanistan, probably of course. And in the first few weeks we made many concessions in the Congress because we were at war and we were under attack. We still have the possibility of that going on so we don't want to obviate all of this, but I think we want to see what in the course of time really works best and the FISA Act has worked pretty well from the time of President Carter's day to the current time.
...So, whos on Roll Calls list on undecideds? Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Arlen Specter (Pa.), and John Warner (Va.). Which ever side gets four of these seven will prevail.
Collins and Snowe have hinted at opposition and Dems on the Hill generally count them as no votes when doing nuclear head counts. Likewise, Lugar and Murkowski are believed to be leaning in the other direction. Warner and Specter have publicly criticized the nuclear option, but remain noncommittal, while Hagel is a complete mystery.
TAPPED: September 2004 Archives:EPISTEMOLOGY AT THE TIMES.The New York Times' David Sanger demonstrates the blinkered perspective afflicting all-too-many of our nation's political reporters as he writes that the "diametrically opposed images [of Iraq] reflect diametrically opposed strategies for the final six weeks of the presidential campaign." The implication here is that the truth about Iraq is some unknowable quantity and each campaign is simply making up its own account of what's going on there in order to further their electoral plans. But let's look a little more closely at these "opposed images" of Iraq.
You've got, in other words, one "vision of Iraq" that reflects "strateg[y] for the final six weeks of the presidential campaign" and then you've got a strategy for the final six weeks of the presidential campaign that's based on the realities in Iraq. Unfortunately, the person whose vision is based on his campaign strategy rather than the other way around is currently sitting in the White House. That means that strategy on the ground in Iraq is based not on what needs to be done to make progress, but on what needs to be done in order to maintain the pretense of progress. The resulting strategy will get soldiers needlessly killed but, hey, it's campaign season and everyone's got to make sacrifices.
It's a scary time, when the Republican Party moves further to the right each day. While this may be good for Democrats at least some of the time, it's really not good for our country. It makes the possibility of an actual right-wing takeover that much more plausible:
In an age when far-right tea party activists have taken over the Republican Party and demanded lockstep allegiance, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) has been one of the few GOP lawmakers to step out of line. In particular, Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has blasted his own party for relentlessly blocking ratification of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, calling on his fellow GOP senators to “do your duty for your country” and complete the pact.
Not surprisingly, this insubordination has earned Lugar significant scorn within the Republican base, which now seems to value blind obedience over principled independent decision-making. In a New York Times profile of Lugar published today, former GOP Sen. John Danforth feared that the backlash against Lugar from his own party signals that the GOP has gone “far overboard” with no hope of turning back:
“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
Mr. Danforth, who was first elected the same year as Mr. Lugar, added, “I’m glad Lugar’s there and I’m not.”
As Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party, told the Times, removing Lugar “will be a difficult challenge. But we do believe it’s doable, and we think the climate is right for it and we believe it is a must.”