Steve Benen: Following months of bipartisan negotiations, the U.S. Senate easily approved landmark immigration legislation with a 68-to-32 vote. In recognition of the seriousness with which Senate leaders took the issue, members took the unusual step of voting from their desks.
In the end, 14 Senate Republicans joined Senate Democrats in support of the proposal. Despite the so-called “border surge” and other provisions secured by GOP senators, 32 of the 46 Senate Republicans — about 70% of the caucus — still voted against the bill. (In 2006, 21 GOP senators voted for comprehensive immigration reform, suggesting, despite electoral pressures, the party is slowly becoming more hostile on the issue, not less.)
Immediately after the Gang of Eight’s bill was approved, Dream Act kids in the Senate gallery could be heard chanting, “Yes we can.”
Heather Gerken (Slate): Goodbye to the Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement – People died to pass Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but that didn’t save it at the Supreme Court.
…. To understand why Section 5 was special, you have to know a bit about its history. The brutal attacks on civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge provided the push needed to pass the Voting Rights Act. When the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, almost no African-Americans were registered to vote in the Deep South due to brutal repression and sickening legal chicanery.
Civil rights litigators and the Department of Justice were doing their best to help. They filed lawsuit after lawsuit to make it possible for blacks to register. But every time a court deemed one discriminatory practice illegal, local officials would switch to another. Literacy tests, poll taxes, burdensome registration requirements – these techniques were all used to prevent African-Americans from voting. Southern voting registrars would even resign from their positions as soon as a lawsuit was on the cusp of succeeding, thereby sending the case back to square one. The Voting Rights Act aimed to change all of this.
Section 5 was the most important and imaginative provision in the law….
Sahil Kapur: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the fierce dissent against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday to invalidate a key section of the Voting Rights Act, accusing the conservative justices of displaying “hubris” and a lack of sound reasoning. “[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making,” wrote the leader of the court’s liberal wing. “Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.”
Joined by the three other liberal-leaning justices, Ginsburg scolded the conservative majority and its rationale for throwing out Section 4 of the law — which contains the formula Congress has used to determine which states and local governments must receive federal pre-approval before changing their voting laws. “Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,” she wrote. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.” “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg wrote.
Texas Tribune: The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.
“I am overwhelmed, honestly,” Davis said after standing for nearly 13 hours to filibuster Senate Bill 5, the abortion legislation. The outpouring of support from protesters at the Capitol and across the nation, she said, “shows the determination and spirit of Texas women and people who care about Texas women.”
…. Republican senators made a last-ditch effort to approve SB 5, voting 19-10, but by then the clock had ticked past midnight. Under the terms of the state Constitution, the special session had ended, and the bill could not be signed, enrolled or sent to the governor.
… Conservative lawmakers tried every tool in the Senate rulebook to derail the filibuster. A “three strikes, you’re out” precedent in the Senate grants lawmakers two warnings about staying germane to the bill topic … Davis received the three strikes: two were on the germaneness of the discussion and one was related to Davis receiving assistance from another senator to put on a back brace….
The off-year election calendar is already hurtling full steam ahead and we better get in the trenches.Julian Castro (D) already won re-election in San Antonio last month. Great, but we have got a lot of work to do NOW. Ed Markey needs a helping hand for June 25 senate elections in MA, as does Steve Ortega in the El Paso mayoral election on June 16, 2013.
Bedwetters are gonna wet beds, GG-Grifters gonna grift, Code Pink & the Sturtzes are gonna heckle, but their tantrums don’t translate into political power. In fact, that’s their business model to parasite off Democrats in power. They thrive in the political sewer. For us 99%ers, Voting, Organizing and Long Term strategizing are the ONLY means to power. It is in our economic interest to STOP Republicans at every level from getting power and doing very bad things to us little people. Raining hellfire on the nuisance Greenwalds and Sturtzes or whatever is the GOP/corporate media fauxrage of the week, is cathartic fly-swatting every once in a while, but it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if we liberals do NOT hold power.
President Obama was handily reelected and we have an Agenda to enact for the American people at the national level. But state and Local elections are even more important in off-years. That’s where the most damage is done. Democrats fail to take these bread and butter races seriously, then watch American Taliban elected unopposed to statewide offices.
Koch brothers & ALEC are vampires destroying democratic (with a small ‘d’) governance in devastating ways at the local level. They’ve bought state legislatures at bargain basement prices who are dismantling our commonweal brick by brick as we speak. Democrats should NEVER cede any territory uncontested to Republicans. Not on schoolboards (that’s how we got the odious Texas curriculum change nightmare & Arizona ban of Hispanic Studies), or District Judges, or City Council, or Land/Agric Commissioner, or poisonous Ballot initiatives.
The last category lies at the core of GOP base mobilization tactics. Bush used anti-gay ballot initiatives to drive religious fundamentalists to the polls and won reelection in 2004. We have to be similarly savvy to rally against odious Initiatives and also craft some ourselves to advance our interests and mobilize our base.
So let’s get to it. Bookmark this post. Find a campaign or two to volunteer on THIS year. Heck, consider running for some local races yourself. Why Not? Have you heard the caliber of wingnuts who flood City Hall or school board? If we don’t challenge them, they make decisions that destroy our kids’ education, ruin our tax revenue projections, and sell off our towns and cities to the corporate cabal, democracy be damned (See Michigan and weep!)
That is the North star we must follow no matter what fake scandals are strewn in our path. Apathy and Complacency taught us a huge lesson in 2010, whose ramifications stall our progress now. Many of us failed to appreciate how recalcitrant entrenched plutocratic power is. So we have to defeat the GOP and their brand of UNAMERICAN callousness toward the 99% of this country’s population. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Republicans do NOT care about this country’s welfare, only to grab for their monied friends. Period.
As President Obama said on election night 2008 “the road will be long, our climb will be steep, but America, we will get there.” Every one of those predictions has been borne out. Good news is we conquered them in 2012. But we have more fight on our hands. Today’s 37th repeal Obamacare vote should remind us that Republicans never give up on eroding our rights. They keep gnawing and gnawing and gnawing at our rights until they can wear us down and chip away till we have only empty shells left.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, April 18, on their way to Boston for a memorial service for the victims of the bombings
A week ago, this was the President’s schedule….
Monday: The President will welcome the BCS National Champion, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, to the White House. Later, he will participate in an ambassador credentialing ceremony * Tuesday: The President will hold a working lunch with Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. Later, he will welcome NASCAR’s Brad Keselowski to the White House * Wednesday: The President will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House * Thursday and Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
…… how things changed
The White House flag lowered to half-mast after the Boston bombings
President Obama talks on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller to receive an update on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the Oval Office, April 15. Seated with the President are Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (Photo by Pete Souza)
The middle of the week brings us the continued terrorist attacks which occur on our streets every day due to gun violence and the easy availability of Time to turn the world rightside upguns. The Senate took up a measure to expand background checks for gun purchases. Although it had majority support, it didn’t have the magic number of 60 yeas, and thus died. (Also killed outright were bans on assault weapons and large magazines. More on that later.)
Let’s not kid ourselves: the background check legislation was, at best, a small step. As Brad Plummer writes in the Washington Post:
The Manchin-Toomey compromise bill was a scaled-back version of earlier proposals to extend background checks to unregulated private gun sales. Many gun experts argued that the slimmed-down proposal would have only marginal effects on gun violence. But even that small step couldn’t get through the Senate.
“But even that small step couldn’t get through the Senate.”
Let that sentence sink in. Our political culture is in such straits that a minor, flawed reform to gun laws could not get through the Senate. Never mind the stricter legislation on magazine size and a ban on assault weapons—legislation which went down to decisive defeats before the background check bill came up. And, of course, the GOP-controlled House has consigned Newtown to the memory hole. It has played no meaningful role in trying to ameliorate the gun violence epidemic infecting the nation; it’s quite happy allowing the carnage to continue. It is, a priori, the price of “freedom”.
It would be quite easy to throw in the towel. A significant chunk of politicians are bought and paid for by deep-pocketed special interests—and at a very cheap price. The worst among them sail to re-election time and again, thanks to that flow of money, and to an electorate which, let’s face it, is too stupid to realize that the men and women for whom they vote couldn’t give a damn about their real needs. Or, maybe they do realize it, but they hold those needs beneath the need to maintain a fiction of a country that never existed and is threatened by the hordes of “Others” about to swamp them.
Gabrielle Giffords: Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.
On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.