Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Last Call: Not With A Bang...

And while we were all eyes on Boston, Republicans are about to kill the gun violence bill.

The tough gun-control bill that President Barack Obama wants now has little, if any, chance of passing this Congress – it’s struggling in the Senate and facing outright rejection in the House.

Vice President Joe Biden worked the phones Monday to try to salvage a bipartisan bill in the Senate but has come up short. Personal appeals from parents of Newtown victims and former Rep. Gabby Giffords haven’t worked either.

And even if Senate negotiators get to 60 votes, the House is certain to rewrite the bill – or discard it altogether.

At this point the votes aren't there. The reason why the votes aren't there is mainly Republicans, but red state Democrats too.

Reid is likely to lose three of his 55 Senate Democrats — Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana. All three said on Monday that they were still reviewing the proposal and would not commit to backing it.

Other members of Obama’s party still undecided include freshmen Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who is up for reelection in 2014, has also not said whether she would back the bill.

That would mean that the bill would fall far short of the filibuster total.   Yes, Democrats are chickening out at this point, but let's not forget it's Republicans who are choosing to block the bill, as Greg Sargent points out.

Because right now, the current situation really appears to be that the fate of the proposal rests in the hands of red state Dems. It would be one thing if it were earning enough GOP support to pass without most of them; in that case, Harry Reid might tacitly indicate that he were okay with a No vote. But right now, the only Republicans supporting the bill are Toomey, John McCain, Susan Collins, and Mark Kirk. The only two Republicans who still appear gettable are Dean Heller and Kelly Ayotte. Even with a total of six Republicans, you’d still need virtually all the red state Dems to break the GOP filibuster.

Keep that in mind as we continue.  Republicans are the ones killing this bill, as I've been saying for months, and they believe there will be no price to pay.

Finding Out The Hard Way About Rand Paul

Yesterday morning the excellent Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote at The Atlantic's website about giving Sen. Rand Paul at least some credit for speaking at Howard University last week and summed up Paul's performance as thus (emphasis mine:)

At this moment, the GOP has a choice. It can embrace the "Gifts" logic of Mitt Romney which holds that black people will never vote for a Republican, or it can make a pitch and compete.
Rand Paul -- skeptical of foreign war, skeptical of the drug war, skeptical of mass incarceration -- is the most credible Republican to make that pitch. We don't have any expectations for Steve King. Paul is different, and is being judged accordingly. You don't get to do something striking and courageous (like Paul's actual filibuster) and get judged by the standards of cowards.

As a black liberal who lives in Kentucky and is one of Paul's constituents, I most respectfully and vehemently disagree. Rand Paul has a long and odious trail through the Bluegrass State, and time and time again his idea of to whom and what liberties should apply always seems to turn out to be the category of people that includes Rand Paul, usually at zero-sum expense of those who are not. I do not find him credible in the least, as Ta-Nehisi points out, Rand Paul is a liar.

Paul's answer to the Civil Rights Act question was deeply damaging. Nothing he did there hurt him more than outright lying. This is 2013. All these kids need do is google Rand Paul and Civil Rights Act to see what Paul actually said. It would be like Obama announcing his support for marriage equality, by claiming he'd always supported it. The worst part is he didn't even have to lie. A simple "I've learned a few things since becoming a senator" would have sufficed. Unforced error. Again, no one around Paul to say, "It's Howard. A third of SNCC went here. You are going to get this question. You must have a good answer."

Now keep in mind, this was just a few paragraphs above where Coates is calling Paul "striking and courageous". This is something I just do not understand. Even when Rand Paul does something I agree with, like co-sponsoring the Justice Safety Valve Act to reduce the awful practice of mandatory sentencing and give judges more leeway, I find I want something like that to succeed in spite of Rand Paul precisely because he has no credibility due to his staggering hypocrisy over liberties and who they should apply to and his outright lies when called out on trying to reconcile his record.

To Coates's eternal credit, it only took him a few hours to revise his opinion of Sen. Paul in a post yesterday afternoon as he researched Paul's post-Howard comments on Friday.

Rand Paul went to Howard University, lied, and then got his ass kicked. That's not so bad. I got my ass kicked regularly at Howard. That was the reason my parents sent me there. But having gotten his ass kicked, his answer is to not to reflect but to make an allegation of racial discrimination.
One of the things I try to do in my work is -- in general -- take people at their word. It's very hard to communicate about anything without good faith. This, of course, assumes that communication is the goal. That was my assumption about Rand Paul. I was clearly wrong.

To those of us who have been continuously embarrassed by Rand Paul's representation of us in the Senate, to whom being his constituent is not an academic exercise in the political calculus of 2016 but unfortunate political reality in 2013, to those of us who have followed his virulent rise to the respectability of only being 95% as insane, bigoted, disingenuous and vitriolic as the rest of the "serious" GOP folks heading into the next election, Rand Paul's credibility evaporated long ago.

I refuse to give him credit because, as Coates discovered the hard way yesterday, everything Rand Paul does is a cynical calculation to help Rand Paul by trying to pull support from liberals who are willing to give him praise just for showing up to the debate. As someone who voted against him, my criteria and my expectations are much higher, and Rand Paul has failed those expectations every. Single. Time. Period. The siren call of his faux libertarian nonsense is a thin veneer hiding the arch-conservative inside. It didn't take Coates long to find out the truth of Rand Paul with just cursory research. It should have been apparent long before, which is the most agonizing thing about Rand Paul and his hustle. I understand keenly the need to fix the school-to-prison pipeline. I understand what decades of disproportionate injustice has done to folks who look like me. I understand the need to find just one sliver of hope in someone like Rand Paul who appears to want to do something about it when so many ignore the absolute atrocity of mass incarceration.

Unfortunately he's just another Republican bigot, my junior senator. Therein lies the problem with the Republican party and its utter lack of credibility to people like me, so yes, as a black liberal in Kentucky I set the bar of expectations to be very high and will continue to do so. Anything less is a disservice. So the next time Rand Paul decides to play his game, please remember what the eventual outcome always is with him, yes?

Unhappy Little Trees, Or Let's Paint The Clown Red

Meanwhile, President Frat Boy likes to paint things.

Former President George W. Bush has opened up about his recent foray into painting, telling the Dallas Morning News in an interview published over the weekend that he likes to shake up stereotypes.

“People are surprised,” Bush told the paper. “Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.”

The dead folks in Iraq and Afghanistan and here, yes, here due to crushing poverty...well, they're not doing much reading these days either.  Let's all have a laugh.

Asked why a semi-retired 66-year-old is spending his free time on frustrating and potentially humiliating activities like mountain biking, painting and golf, Bush laughed.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ll have to call all the people who’ve written these books about me, who claim they know me, the psycho-babblers.”

Kinda glad he's no longer in charge with this Boston thing.  We'd be in another decade long shooting war within three months.


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