Tag Archives: US Senate

The US Senate Decides Guns are More Important than People

18 Apr

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Courtesy Marquil at Empirewire.com

Do you think that the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an unrestricted right to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right of paranoid schizophrenics or clinically diagnosed psychopaths to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee a toddler’s right to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right of felons to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right to own a tank? A drone? A rocket-propelled grenade launcher?

None of the above are rhetorical questions. I’m absolutely serious. 

Does anything in the Constitution guarantee my right – your right – not to be shot? How about the kids from Sandy Hook or the moviegoers in Aurora?

Do you think that the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution is also absolute and unrestricted in any way? You’d be wrong. There are plenty of government restrictions on speech that have been ruled constitutional. You’re not allowed to incite a riot or libel someone, for instance.

And so it is that, although 90% of Americans support universal background checks for dealer and gun show sales, the United States Senate Wednesday night was unable to defeat a Republican-led filibuster of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment. Drafted by a conservative Republican and a conservative Democrat, the amendment would have implemented background checks to prevent homicidal maniacs and felons from legally obtaining guns.

This new gun control initiative was brought about in response to the Sandy Hook massacre, where 20 little boys and girls were mowed down by a lunatic. One of the biggest efforts was to close the gun show loophole, to make sure that those sales are subject to the same background checks that retail sales undergo. Yesterday on Facebook, people argued to me that implementation of this statute would not have prevented Sandy Hook. But that’s a disingenuous argument – it’s too late for that, and you can’t retroactively prevent anything. I brought up that Australia and the UK implemented stringent gun control in response to their school massacres, and have seen none since. Someone brought up a shooting of 12 in Cumbria that took place in 2010 – the first mass shooting in the UK since the 1996 Dunblane massacre. In the US, we have mass shootings much, much more frequently than that, and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. After Dunblane, the UK effectively banned handguns.

This is what I have to say about your gun and your gun rights.

England and Wales see .7 gun homicides for every 100,000 people. Scotland has no data. Australia has .14 homicides per 100,000 of population. Canada sees .51 homicides per 100,000 people. By contrast, the United States has 3 gun homicides per 100,000 people. That doesn’t count accidental deaths and suicides. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, and close to 50% of the small arms. Access to guns and ammo are not at risk or adversely affected.

From TPM,

The legislation, written by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), was the centerpiece of gun control efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings. It was supposed to be the breakthrough that led to the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. But it only picked up a few senators and hardened the opposition of many. A last-ditch effort by Democrats to win over skeptical senators by offering new concessions fell apart late Tuesday.

About nine out of 10 Americans support universal background checks, according to polls. The failed vote reflects the enduring power of the National Rifle Association, which opposed the bill and threatened to target lawmakers who voted in its favor.

“Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate,” the NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement issued immediately after the vote. “As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

Centrist senators who were courted eventually revealed their opposition to the proposal this week, making it all but clear by Wednesday that it lacked the votes to pass. Opponents voiced gripes ranging from an alleged infringement on Second Amendment rights to the more far-reaching — and inaccurate — claim that the legislation would set up a national gun registry.

So, the NRA defeated the will of 90% of the people, and prevented a vote from being held on the amendment. The United States congress cannot pass a law without 60% of the Senate, and that’s not how our system is supposed to work. Of course, in 1999 – after Columbine – the NRA supported universal background checks. What’s changed? Why must 90% of America succumb to the will of a small lobby representing a small number of people?

A lunatic shoots up a school, and the Senate filibusters a reasonable and constitutional gun control bill drafted by two conservatives.

I think that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords said it best,

Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence — nothing at all. Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.

 

Long vs. Gillibrand

29 Jun

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The Election Season is Dead! Long Live the Election Season!

4 Nov

The fever wave gripped the nation far tighter than New York. As we head to a Thompson-Grisanti recount and a potentially split New York Senate, Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins, Slaughter and Cuomo all cruised to their successes. Democrats nationally faired far worse.

Chris Smith recently asked where the GOP, in full embrace with the Tea Party, was ultimately headed. He projected a possible southern, regional party of dissention first. One hesitates to read too much into a single election, but the results on Tuesday were broad and deep. In Pennsylvania, where President Obama won by 10 points in 2008, Republicans gained the Governor’s mansion, a US Senate seat, four US House reps, and took over both chambers of the state legislature. That is Pennsylvania, not Texas, North Carolina or Oklahoma. Obama’s home state of Illinois went red, and brought Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin with it. When over 60 House and 7 (8 maybe) Senate seats are gained, few regions are spared. Republicans also gained big in state legislatures, so much post-census re-districting will be gerrymandered in their favor.

“How could this happen?” ask the Democratic faithful. The answer is easy, and based upon soon-to-be Speaker Boehner’s first public statements, he understands. First, accurately interpret the message of the electorate. President Obama was elected to bring competent government, after the debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, and Katrina. Change was a Change to good government. Second, deliver on the platform you were elected on, even if it is slightly different than the one you ran on. Obama spent his political capital on healthcare, but a $2.8 Trillion budget deficit over two years does not look like progress, it looks like incompetence. Enter Tuesday Night.

So what now? Three thoughts:

Hope that Boehner and Obama learn to enjoy a martini together. It was my prediction that the worst possible scenario was a Republican House, but a Democratic Senate and White House. Each side could blame the other, shun governance, and wait it out to 2012. Now that we are there, then the best we can hope for is that Boehner and Obama develop a Reagan/O’Neill relationship, and the Senate is ignored. If Harry Reid, despite the odds, stays Majority Leader, then he should be marginalized. If Schumer challenges and becomes Majority Leader, then he would happily join the two-some, and there is a chance bills leave conference committee and make it to the President’s desk.

Don’t fear the money. Meg Whitman spent $150 million and lost the governorship of California. Linda McMahon spent $50 million in Connecticut and lost. Tim Keane, DNC chairman, roamed the cable new airwaves (oxymoron?) Tuesday night complaining that $64 million was spent by unknown groups on attack ads against Democratic Senate candidates. $64 million. Avant cost more than $64 million. $64 million is a down payment on Canalside. $64 million is a pittance by any national standard. And in any case, money may be speech, but it clearly is not votes.  

Will the Tea Party amoeba “learn” from its overreach. At what point did a fight against deficits require a litmus test of one’s Birther credentials, or a call for Second Amendment Remedies? The most egregious Tea Party recruits, and the Sarah Palin picks – O’Donnell, Angle, Miller in Alaska – all lost. A small second tier of fringe candidates – Rand Paul – won. The big Tea Party successes were in the House, where some more extreme candidates made the cut. This should not be overplayed, however, as it is not a unique Tea Party phenomenon. A couple off candidates make it every cycle (Grayson from Florida, anyone).

Several exit polls indicate the number one voter concern is deficits. If the Republicans grab this Tea Party issue (while somehow managing to restrain themselves from the Muslim sleeper agent talk), and embrace it with the President’s Debt Commission, then we have a rare chance to address long term entitlement spending. Of the 428 non-incumbents running this year for seats in the House, the number one background of candidates (109) was “small business owner.” As the White House is long on academics, and short on practitioners, the Republicans could do well to harness some of the new budget acumen that the freshman are eager to display. And this new Chris Collins-esque national image makeover is already beginning. Haley Barbour, astute Republican governor of Mississippi, said yesterday that Republicans are the party of small-business, but there is no party of Wall Street or Big Business. Wall Street always goes with the winner. Ask Cuomo.

Two years ago I predicted the Republicans would Clinton-fy, eschew Palin, and tack to the center. I was wrong, but maybe not entirely. It was a predictable outcome that Republicans would go more anti-Centrist McCain after the 2008 loss, but a two year flirtation with Palin is not yet played out. If the worst of the Palin-promoted fringe candidates are left in the rearview mirror, and fiscal conservatism alone is what rules the day, then Obama, Boehner, and America’s budgets will be the beneficiaries.

Gillibrand on Veterans and the State of the Race

28 Oct

Video from Senator Kirsten Gillbrand’s visit to Buffalo and Daemen College yesterday:

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Gillibrand vs. The Tea Party Trio

8 Sep

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Not for nothing, but for Kirsten Gillibrand, 2010 ought to be a cakewalk.  The only one of these three clowns I even recognize is DioGuardi, and that’s because he’s running TV spots.

Schumer & Gillbrand at the 2010 NYS Democratic Convention

26 May

Some highlights:

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Some photos:

Gail Goode Introduces Herself

26 May

In what passes for controversy and intrigue at this year’s state Democratic Convention, a new candidate emerged, in an effort to primary Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Attorney Gail Goode wrote the letter seen in this post, and delivered it to the press and the nominating committee, asking that committee to place her name on the ballot.

If Goode was successful, it would mean that both US Senators would likely be downstate lawyers with a decidedly City-centric focus. In her lit, Goode touts her toughness as an attorney defending tort actions brought against New York City, and her earlier work with the city’s Transit Authority.

It appears that she attempts to distinguish herself from Gillibrand by stating that she has “consistently supported progressive social issues her entire life…[and] has never wavered in her support of equal marriage or of legislation to stem the tide of illegal guns into our state…”

In other words, “I’m not that Northern woman“.

Also and Maybe

7 Mar

From Bob McCarthy’s column today:

• And speaking of [Harold] Ford’s withdrawal, the Tennessean has learned the same lesson as Rep. Steve Israel and others contemplating a challenge to Gillibrand — the Democratic powers-that-be said “no.”

I thought he learned the lesson that, “if you’re going to run for statewide office, it helps that you can say the campaign trail isn’t the very first time you’ve left the island of Manhattan since moving to New York a couple of years ago. Also, it helps if you’ve established your domicile in the state and paid state income taxes. Also, it helps if you’re not spouting nonsense and have an actual platform on which to run apart from, ‘I’m not that Northern woman from the sticks.’ Also, he probably learned that all of his anti-abortion talk from long ago to reassure his southern constituency doesn’t play quite as well in New York, where even a lot of Republicans are pro-choice.”

Or something.

Recordbreaking

1 Mar

When the minority opposition party’s raison d’être, as expressed by its leader Comte Limbaugh de Palme-Ouest, is to see the President fail, you get this: a record number of threatened filibusters and cloture votes. 112 last year. Over 40 already in just the first two months of 2010.

Luckily, reconciliation on budget bills is an equally valid Senate procedural tactic and lets them get it done with 51. After all, that’s what the Republicans did when George W. Bush was president and they needed to push through massive deficit-expanding tax cuts.

Either way, the Democrats should make the Republicans make good on their threat to filibuster health insurance reform. Make them talk, just like then-Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond talked for over 24 hours in his effort to prevent African-Americans from being guaranteed a right to vote.

It's a Ford

13 Jan

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire