Category Archives: Sen. Mitch McConnell

We’ve Only Just Begun

[UPDATE] 2:

Reid has tabled the gun bill. It will be back, you can count on it.

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[UPDATE]:

Heh. Here’s an interesting spin on the gun bill from none other than the Marine Corps. Times:

The Senate failed Wednesday to pass legislation preventing veterans from losing gun ownership rights simply for being incapable of handling their financial affairs.

[…]

The amendment sought allow the VA to only report to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System if a judge, magistrate or other judicial authority determines a veteran is a danger to himself or others.

Wednesday’s vote came on an amendment to S 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, after the Senate also defeated attempts to expand background checks for gun purchases and to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who sponsored the Senate amendment, said current policy has led 129,000 veterans to be “deprived of their Second Amendment Rights to own firearms” without due process because they were declared financially “incompetent,” the term used by the VA for those appointed a fiduciary to handle their financial affairs.

Why does Mitch McConnell hate the troops?

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Mitch McConnell has tipped his hand with his ridiculous happy dance over the gun bill’s defeat. Because this tells me he’s clearly remembering his own biggest failure as minority leader: his vow to make Obama a one-term president at all costs. How’d that work for you, Mitch? Not so good.

As Buzzfeed reminds us, after the Columbine shooting a similar piece of legislation was put forth. And it had the support of eight Republicans still serving in the Senate today, including …. wait for it … Mitch McConnell. This would be the same piece of legislation which gave us that infamous video of Wayne LaPierre saying,

“We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone,” he said. “That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mentally ill are in the system. This isn’t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances.”

That effort went down in defeat in the Republican-controlled House, unfortunately. Still, it’s helpful to remember that Wayne LaPierre, Mitch McConnell and five other Republicans were for universal background checks before they were against them. What changed? Just the burning desire to punch a hippie, give President Obama the middle finger, and obstruct anything that a person with a “D” after their name supports.

It’s not surprising. Because while McConnell might enjoy spiking the football over this piece of legislation, we’ve got our eyes on the big picture. We know that when Republicans and four Republican-lite Democrats say no to something supported by 90% of the American people, they are the picture of irrelevancy. Remember, Lisa Murkowski, that time you voted for the Blunt Amendment and then immediately regretted it? You said,

“I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” she said.

Yeah, this is what happens when you base your votes on special interests. And I think a lot of Senators will be getting a taste of that in coming weeks. Because it’s not over. It’s over when we say it’s over, and as long as shootings and gun accidents and gun violence remain at epidemic proportions in this country, we aren’t stopping.

Gabrielle Giffords has an op-ed in today’s New York Times, which is a must-read. She writes:

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

Yes, yes, and more yes. Also: four Democrats voted against universal background checks: Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Their votes wouldn’t have mattered — we’d still have been two votes shy of the 60 required — but I’ll remember their names anyway. I’ll need them when I refuse those DSCC fundraising calls and letters I always get.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Republican Party, Sen. Mitch McConnell

>Party Of No: Swine Flu Edition

>[UPDATE]:

More from the Cavalcade of stupid:

When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.

Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse—with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.

See, Republicans, this is why American voters dumped y’all’s asses back in November. So why don’t you just step aside and let the grown-ups be in charge for a while, ‘mm’kay?

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Joe at AmericaBlog is apparently the first to notice that the GOP is filibustering HHS Secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius just in time for the swine flu pandemic:

Never underestimate the willingness of the GOP to put politics over the best interests of the nation. Last week, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell started a filibuster to prevent confirmation of Obama’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.
[…]

Today, at the White House briefing, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was there as was John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. They were joined by the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But, we don’t even have a head of CDC because the Secretary of HHS appoints that person. And, no Secretary of HHS. In fact, as the White House transcript shows, Napolitano had to make the announcement about the “public health emergency” for HHS.

Thank you, GOP! Thank you, Mitch McConnell.

And thank you, George W. Bush:

For the time being, HHS is being led by Acting Secretary Charles Johnson, a Bush-appointee from Utah who spent most of his career working as an accountant.

Hecukva job, Republicans!

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>Deep Freeze

> Dear Sen. Mitch McConnell:

I know your most pressing concern right now is bringing African American and Hispanic voters into the GOP fold. But in case it has escaped your notice, the state of Kentucky is experiencing an emergency prompted by this week’s winter storm.

A winter storm isn’t all that unusual in January in this part of the world; unfortunately for the people of Kentucky, especially those in the western part of the state, the area’s infrastructure hasn’t been up to the task:

A majority of residents in the counties farthest west have been without electricity for at least 48 hours, and some are facing as much as two more weeks without it. Phone and power lines are strewn about in McCracken County with many utility poles lying in pieces.

Customers with AT&T cell phone service — who happen to be the majority in the region — haven’t been able to get signals consistently since early Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, the state’s adjutant general, said AT&T reported as many as 220 of its cell sites and a slew of its circuits were down mostly because of power outages.

The electric companies in Western Kentucky are particularly overwhelmed.

Virtually everyone in Calloway County remained out of power Thursday, said Judge-Executive Larry Elkins.

“The problem is a major feed line into the county — a major transmission line — is broken,” he said. “Once we get that main transmission line repaired, then we can find out where the smaller problems are. And that’s still a huge number.”

I’m sure it’s a great comfort to the Congress Critters of Kentucky that their constituents will never know they just voted against funding for infrastructure improvements, and are now spending their time hand-wringing over how to bring the Republican Party back from the brink of obsolescence.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beale and I are trying to figure out how to get ahold of our friends and relatives in Trigg and Caldwell counties. A friend who had to make the trip into Nashville yesterday “for supplies” told us the area “looks like a war zone.” People can’t get gasoline because the pumps are electricity-powered, cell phone and traditional phone service are both down, roads are still iced over, and it’s a giant mess.

But don’t worry, folks. Your Congress Critters seem to think that tax cuts will solve all of those problems. After all, they’ve worked so well in the past.

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>Time For A Living Wage

>Via Oxdown at Firedoglake, an explanation of today’s middle finger to American workers that was the loan “auto bailout” measure:

The foreign nonunion auto companies located in the South have a plan to reduce wages and benefits at their factories in the United States. And to do it, they need to destroy the United Auto Workers.

Last week, Senate Republicans from some Southern states went to work trying to do just that, on the foreign car companies’ behalf.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) — representatives from states that subsidize companies such as Honda, Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan — first tried to force the UAW to take reductions in wages and benefits as a condition for supporting the auto industry bailout bill. When the UAW refused, those senators torpedoed the bill.

[…]

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger realized that the existence of the union was under attack, which is why he refused to give in to the Senate Republicans’ demands that the UAW make further concessions. I say “further” because the union has already conceded a lot. Its 2007 contract introduced a two-tier contract to pay new hires $15 an hour (instead of $28) with no defined pension plan and dramatic cuts to their health insurance. In addition, the UAW agreed that healthcare benefits for existing retirees would be transferred from the auto companies to an independent trust. With the transferring of the healthcare costs, the labor cost gap between the Big Three and the foreign transplants will be almost eliminated by the end of the current contracts.

One reason there is the perception that UAW wages are so overinflated is that the “average” figures our media cited included retiree pensions. American auto manufacturers carry huge legacy costs, since, you know, Ford has been making cars in America a few generations longer than have Toyota and Nissan.

One would expect that foreign manufacturers would eventually carry some high pension costs, someday perhaps, unless they take some kind of proactive action. And lo and behold:

However, an internal Toyota report, leaked to the Detroit Free Press last year, reveals that the company wants to slash $300 million out of its rising labor costs by 2011. The report indicated that Toyota no longer wants to “tie [itself] so closely to the U.S. auto industry.” Instead, the company intends to benchmark the prevailing manufacturing wage in the state in which a plant is located. The Free Press reported that in Kentucky, where the company is headquartered, this wage is $12.64 an hour, according to federal labor statistics, less than half Toyota’s $30-an-hour wage.

If the companies, with the support of their senators, can wipe out or greatly weaken the UAW, they will be free to implement their plan.

This sounds about right.

Let’s just say the Nissan plant in Smyrna, TN., paid its workers $12.64/hour right now. That’s a good bit more than the current minimum wage–$7.25 (and you have the Democratic majority in Congress to thank for even that), and a healthy bit above the $8.87 that is a living wage for single adults in Rutherford County. But if you’re a single mom, or the sole provider in your family, it’s not enough to make ends meet.

Scott County, KY, where Toyota’s Georgetown plant is located, and where that hourly wage is said to be a probable reality, doesn’t fare much better.

So, if this does in fact happen three years from now—file this one away for the memory hole, peeps!—you have folks like Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell to thank.

I know this may come as a shock to the wingnut coalition that visits my blog, but I’m not by default an automatic union supporter. I’m not attached to the “existence of the union” if the benefits of union membership can be achieved some other way. But I am a big supporter of the working man and woman, and if that means forming unions so workers can have a collective voice at the negotiating table, that’s fine with me.

But if the ultimate legacy of the Bush Years is the destruction of the American worker’s union, so be it. All is not lost, my friends.

What we need in this country is a national Living Wage law. If workers in this country were paid a decent wage, a wage they could live on, a living wage, and that wage were the law of the land, maybe we wouldn’t need unions anymore.

Just a thought.

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Filed under auto bailout, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Mitch McConnell, unions

>Mitch McConnell: Republican Hypocrite du Jour

>Irony alert! While touting how well the Toyota manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky is doing versus Detroit, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, seems completely ignorant of the fact that Toyota’s Kentucky manufacturing facility makes hybrid cars.

Meanwhile, McConnell’s record on energy & oil shows he consistently voted in support of Big Oil’s interests and against things like higher CAFE standards, which might have saved Detroit’s bacon.

In fact:

As minority leader, McConnell has led Republican opposition to a number of environmental measures in the past two years. Under his leadership, Senate Republicans stalled passage of renewable-energy tax credits for most of 2008. McConnell led efforts to tie up the Climate Security Act in procedural stalls, which led to the early death of the bill. He’s been a leading champion of offshore drilling, claiming in July that people in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas think “oil rigs are pretty.”

If the Toyota plant in Kentucky is going strong, it’s because they make cars that people actually want to buy: energy efficient, hybrid technology vehicles, that come with a nice government tax rebate. And that is in spite of, not because of, Sen. Mitch McConnell, one the League of Conservation Voters’ Dirty Dozen.

Wanker.

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