Background Checks Filibustered 54-46, Boy Did You Mess Up Guys

Get it straight, it didn’t lose, it was filibustered. By procedure demanded by the Republicans it had to reach 60 votes to pass.

So 54 (actually 55, Reid had to vote against for procedural reasons) Senators voted to extend background checks and 45 elected United States Senators decided that they could not support even this tiny common sense measure supported by about 90% of the public.

“Shame on you!” shouted two women in the gallery after the vote. One was Virginia Maisch, who grabbed the third clip from the gunman who opened fired at then-Rep. Gabby Giffords in the Tuscon., Ariz., shooting in 2011. The other was Lori Hass, whose daughter was injured in the Virginia Tech shootings six years ago.

Four Democrats voted no. Begich – Alaska, Pryor – Arkansas (a poll has 72% in that state supporting the measure), Heidkamp – N.D., and Baucus – Montana. I don’t have polling in the other 3 states, but I bet they’re not that far off Arkansas and the rest of the nation. These four Senators are betting that the NRA will help them in their next election more than pro-gun control forces will hurt them. I think they bet wrong.

My prediction: another tougher bill will be on the floor within 6 months and it will pass because the pressure will continue to build and gather committed activists. 

This has just begun.

Update: Have to wonder if any of the “nos” today would have been changed if the bill had any chance of passage in the House. It didn’t, so it was easier for many to just go with the NRA on it.

This is relevant because it’s going to be hard to change the Senate dramatically. Begich, Pryor and Heidamp will struggle for re-election no matter what. Baucus can be reelected as long as he wants to. There are only a couple more GOPers in blue states like Ayotte or Toomey (whose bill it was). But the House can go blue in 2014 and then things become more possible even in the Senate.

Expanded Background Checks – Sen. Manchin just realizing NRA has no credibility

Feels like a surreal alternate reality, but yeah, the NRA has zero credibility Joe. Tell your fellow Senators.

Manchin later criticized the NRA, of which he has been a lifetime member with an “A” rating. “Now when when they are so disingenuous and telling members that our legislation, and I quote, ‘would criminalize the firearms by honest citizens,'” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This bill does not even touch …”

“That’s a lie,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough interrupted.

“It is a lie, Joe,” Manchin responded. “If they lose credibility, they’ve lost everything in Washington.”

Newtown figured this out, Aurora figured this out, Virginia Tech got it. America pretty much gets it. How is it that our elected representatives are the slowest people on the uptake of the duplicitousness and doubledealing of lobbyists? Could it be THE MONEY? Geez!

Tens of millions to receive substance abuse help under Obamacare

Can we end the war on drugs tomorrow? Please? Stop spending billions on failed interventionist policies, decriminalize marijuana and tax it, treat addiction like a health problem, not a law enforcement problem. There are so many wins there in that sentence – win, win, win, etc. It’s literally insane that we can’t get over this national brain fart. So many lives in this and other countries can be saved and improved.

The Raw Story details one of Obamacare’s many positive but rarely publicized aspects when fully implemented in 2014:  better substance abuse help.

“This is probably the most profound change we’ve had in drug policy ever,” Michael Botticelli, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the AP. “We know one of the most significant reasons for the treatment gap is folks who don’t have insurance or who have an inadequate coverage package for substance use disorders.”


Judge Denies Gitmo Detainee’s Bid For Relief – Hunger Strikes Continue

I suppose if all the prisoners killed themselves Gitmo would be de facto closed.

In 2010, Hogan tossed out most of the government’s evidence against al-Madhwani on grounds his confessions were coerced, allegedly by U.S. forces, before he became a prisoner at Guantanamo. But Hogan ruled that statements he made during two military administrative hearings at the U.S. detention center in Cuba, where he was assisted by a personal representative, were reliable and sufficient to justify holding the detainee.

According to his lawyers, Musaab al-Madhwani is in his 11th year of imprisonment and has never been charged with a crime.

70% Say the GOP Out of Touch with Most Americans, and ho hum


Michael Tomasky carves up the stunning numbers from the ABC News poll: 70% believe that one of the two major parties is out of touch but get this, 49% of Republicans think their party is out of touch!  Half of them!  Their own party!  Out of touch!  So what’s next?

… it is one of the central problems in our politics, and perhaps the central one that these 49 percent have no one representing them. 

We are a two-party country, period. One of those parties is still somewhat ideologically diverse, running from Maxine to Max (Waters to Baucus). The other one is not. That is our problem. And it will remain so until rich moderate Republicans decide to get together and put their money behind organizations to give moderate Republicanism life and muscle again.

So Tomasky is hoping for a silent (maybe) majority of Republicans to either grow a spine and decide to reform the moderate wing of the party, or take it back altogether from the know-nothing extremists who’ve been bollocksing up everything. He has accepted that we are a two party country, period. I don’t agree. I do believe we can adopt more than the two parties that have been our reality for 100 years. 

But more to the point I believe it’s much more likely that that third party would be created by a schism within the GOP. And if that happens it’s not going to be moderates developing a sack. It’s going to be one of the brands of know-nothing (libertarians, Christianists) deciding to make a statement and going rogue.  

I’m rooting for this because it would give the Democrats a chance to run things in uniform government for a bit, which we badly need to heal the malfeasance of the GOP and push things into the 21st century on economic fairness, climate change, renewable energy, education, etc.  

Boston Tragedy – Having Trouble with that “T” Word

Maybe it’s just because the violence is so goddam pointless or my inner editor is being overly picky, but while what happened in Boston is terrifying, and an act of terror, I’m not sure it’s “terrorism”.

I grew up when the IRA was constantly active both in Ireland and England creating an atmosphere of fear.  If something blew up in London, Belfast or Derry, you knew who did it and you knew why. I just can’t help thinking that unless somebody comes forward and claims responsibility and says why they did it and makes a demand of some sort it’s not really terrorism, it’s just wanton cruelty and bloodlust.  Or maybe it’s just not effective terrorism.  

Either way it sucks.

Gosnell will be the New Benghazi

And likewise, the RWNJs will be oblivious to the irony.

Famously, GOP Congressmen droned on in high dudgeon about the security breaches that caused the Benghazi tragedy, pausing not at all when having to answer (usually “yes”) whether they voted for the $300M cut in embassy security the leadership pushed through. 

Likewise, in this tragic case, conservative anti-choice voices will scream bloody murder and accuse the “liberal” media of a cover-up (natch!) when the actions of the anti-choicers will only make such tragedies more common. 

Irin Carmon on Salon has the lowdown.

This week, as Virginia-based pro-choice activist Michelle Kinsey Bruns noted on Twitter, “Fitting that the right is trying to whip folks into a frenzy over #Gosnell the same day VA is trying to put safe abortion care out of reach.” She’s referring to so-called TRAP laws, which are regulations aimed at abortion clinics that have nothing to do with safety — say, the size of parking lots — to seek to drive them out of business, and which are expected to go forward in a vote today. According to Tara Murtha, a Philadelphia-based reporter who has been covering the Gosnell case from the start, in the aftermath of Pennsylvania’s own TRAP laws, the state went from 22 free-standing clinics to 13. As Murtha puts it, “The bottom line is that politicizing abortion led to Gosnell. Their answer? Politicize it more.”