Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, December 4th, 2015.

Yakety Yak

Obama Administration

Yesterday Senate Republicans killed a couple of gun control proposals:

The first gun control measure proposed by Democrats was legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would deny people on a federal terrorism watch list the ability to purchase guns. The measure failed, 45-54. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) voted with Republicans to reject the measure, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) crossed over to vote in favor of the gun restrictions.

The second vote revived legislation from April 2013, written in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Conn., with bipartisan backing that would enact universal background checks. The four Republicans who backed the bill then — Kirk and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who co-authored the measure with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — also voted in favor of the Democrats’ plan on Thursday. Heitkamp also opposed the second gun-control measure, which was blocked on a 48-50 tally. …

… The vote carried little drama: No one changed their position from April 2013, and other than Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) attempting to vote “aye” twice, there was little drama as senators scrolled on their phones during the first major gun vote in two and a half years.

So, Republicans make sure we can’t do anything about our most common form of terrorism — mass shootings. The New York Times editorial board:

In the hours after the attack in San Bernardino on Wednesday, President Obama specifically mentioned that legislation as an important security measure. “Those same people who we don’t allow to fly can go into a store in the United States and buy a firearm, and there’s nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s a law that needs to be changed,” he said on CBS News. The George W. Bush administration backed the terrorist-list bill in 2007.

No matter. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, issued his party’s weak defense of arming potential terrorism suspects on Thursday morning: “I think it’s very important to remember people have due process rights in this country, and we can’t have some government official just arbitrarily put them on a list.” Mr. Ryan’s Senate colleagues demonstrated that they are more worried about the possibility that someone might be turned away from a gun shop than shielding the public against violent criminals.

Short on action, big on talk:

At the Republican Jewish Coalition’s conference on Thursday, the Republican presidential candidates offered little but political attacks. Senator Cruz immediately blamed Mr. Obama: “Coming on the wake of the terror attack in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war, whether or not the current administration realizes it or is willing to acknowledge it, our enemies are at war with us and I believe this nation needs a wartime president to defend it.”

Gov. Chris Christie injected more fear: “The president continues to wring his hands and say ‘we’ll see,’ but those folks dressed in tactical gear with semiautomatic weapons came there to do something. We need to come to grips with the idea that we are in the midst of the next world war.”

From Jeb Bush, a bizarre slam: “The brutal savagery of Islamic terrorism exists, and this president and his former secretary of state cannot call it for what it is.”

And Donald Trump, true to his birther views, insinuated that Mr. Obama was hiding something: “Radical Islamic terrorism. We have a president that refuses to use the term. He refuses to say it. There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”

One, the Planned Parenthood shooter was not an “Islamic terrorist.” The Charleston shooter was not an “Islamic terrorist.” Of course, to Republicans, terrorism is defined by who does it. If a Muslim shoots somebody, it’s terrorism; if a white supremacist or anti-abortion whackjob does exactly the same thing, it isn’t.

Two, the President wants to be clear the United States is not at war with Islam. But, you know, those shrieking magical adjectives could keep us safe …

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