Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is taking time out from doing whatever is necessary to block Floridians from getting affordable health care to target another issue: A law that blocks guns from being purchased by 18, 19, and 20 year olds.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is asking supporters of his Reclaim America PAC to support beleaguered Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for voting down a bipartisan amendment extending background checks for gun purchases.
Ayotte is the Senator who, after voting against background checks, saw her approval ratings do a nosedive. Having tanked in the polls, she now claims she supports, and in fact voted for background checks. She's so desperate to have constituents believe this that she penned an op-ed at the Bedford Patch, opening with this statement:
I want to set the record straight: I support effective background checks and in fact voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Rubio of course knows this, and while he's not all that sharp in some departments, he knows how to grift. So if he can cash in on ignorance and score political points at the same time, what's not to love? "Freedom" at any price is Rubio's cash cow, and his selling of it has little to do with actual Democracy, or common sense.
Liberals just can’t get over the fact that their most recent attempt to restrict our Second Amendment rights was defeated soundly by the American people.
Whether Rubio can read, or chooses not to, is beside the point here. It's not "liberals" that can't get over the background checks that failed, which in no way would have restricted Rubio's beloved Second Amendment rights. It's the 91% of all "the people" regardless of party affiliation who favored those very same background checks that won't easily get over the fact that Rubio and his "freedom loving" colleagues voted against their will. It wasn't "defeated soundly by the American people," it was defeated by 46 NRA backed Senators, several of which are now seeing their poll numbers plummet. Go figure. If "the people" had soundly defeated it, the NRA would have no need to spend $250,000 to support Ayotte now, and Rubio would have no reason to grift anew. And yet, here he is waving a petition in the face of the gullible as he hands them a pen to sign it with, and while they're at, another check. "Reclaim America" indeed.
No, for the sake of this particular argument, these are a few of the only people that matter in Rubio's world right now. The people who have vowed to break the law by marching into Washington armed on the Fourth of July, and daring any authorities to enforce that law against openly carrying loaded weapons in the subtlest way possible. Nothing says "subtle" like knowingly break the law, then claiming enforcement of that law means "the government chooses to make it violent."
Speaking as a "liberal" I would be the first to stand up for, and support anyone, Republican or Democrat, who would be willing do what all of "the people" want, not just the ones who Rubio defines as "Americans." The majority of Americans do, but they have no representation in Marco's world, and he's not being subtle in pointing that out. For those who still need a little convincing, he and Ayotte have to grift their way around reality to get where they want to go. Unfortunately the dishonesty is catching up with them, and their desperation is showing.
Obtaining power by propaganda and force rarely bodes well, but then isn't that the whole idea that Rubio has propped up his history and political ambitions with?
Last week it was reported that authorities searching for clues in the Boston Marathon bombing were hampered in their efforts because of an NRA backed law that prevents tracing explosives. Had the law not been in place, the investigation might have moved along quicker and perhaps could have saved the life of a policeman who was shot by one of the bombers.
In addition to that, current laws on the books also allow anyone to purchase up to 50 pounds of explosive powders without a background check.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require background checks to be run on anyone buying explosive powder, a reaction to last week's Boston Marathon bombing.
Reid introduced the bill, S. 792, for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been out sick for much of the year. But in a press statement, Lautenberg said the Boston bombing shows that background checks are needed for explosive materials.
"It defies common sense that anyone, even a terrorist, can walk into a store in America and buy explosive powders without a background check or any questions asked," Lautenberg said Tuesday. "Requiring a background check for an explosives permit is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.
The bill would not only require background checks on purchases of the powder, but would also stop the sale of explosives to suspected terrorists, and require a permit to make homemade explosives.
Last week Republicans filibustered gun background checks, so it will be interesting to see if they'll have the guts to actually do something about this, especially when it's a law that could have helped just days ago in the investigation of a terrorist attack.
More to the point, will Marco Rubio once again block any legislation that would protect the public safety of his constituents? Given his track record, I would say the chances of him doing anything that the public wants doesn't stand the chance against his big donors like the NRA.
Once again, The Daily Show illustrates why they're sometimes a more credible "news source" than traditional media.
Here, John Oliver goes to the heart of the conventional wisdom, and the truth on why so many Washington lawmakers still refuse to pass gun legislation that 91 percent of Americans want.
Watch as a former aid to Sen. Harry Reid admits that getting reelected is more important to politicians than enacting legislation that protects the public safety, the evidence of which we saw last week in Washington. Sadly, you'll also see that Australian politicians faced with the same political consequences were still willing and able to do the right thing. If only more of our politicians had the guts to do the same.
This afternoon, as parents of children who were gunned down in Newtown look on, the Senate will fail to get the 60 votes necessary to get the minimal of a common sense measure that could have prevented the next Newtown. For that, thanks go to Republicans and Democrats, including the latest "no" from Senator Kelly Ayotte, of faux Benghazi rage. A Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp, also announced her opposition today.
We've been cautioned all along by the "conventional wisdom" that gun legislation would never see the light of day, a talking point that is uttered almost immediately after each gun massacre in this country by politicians and media alike. We're told that the NRA is "too big to fail" so to speak, and they will not allow anyone to even entertain the tiniest measure of preventative gun legislation because gun owners rights to own an arsenal trump the right to life for anyone else in the country, (absent a fetus, of course) lest the Wayne LaPierres and Marion Hammers of the world give them a bad report card like teachers from hell. They'll not only face the wrath of ruling members of the horror club, but they'll be cut off from the cash flow, which is the true bottom line in this revolving door of hypocrisy and has been for years.
When Newtown happened, many thought or hoped that finally that sanity would prevail. But thanks to cowards like Ayotte, Heitkamp, and their "no" voting colleagues, unless there is some kind of mind blowing change of heart, insanity will win again today in full view of parents who have suffered one of the most horrible losses imaginable in a moment of needless gun violence. These Senators will cast a "no" vote, and in essence they'll convey the message that these lost children mean nothing to them. Their "no" votes come at a price. The Senators and the gun lobby profit again, while ordinary people just trying to live a normal life will lose theirs. In this last case, mostly 6 and 7 year olds.
You Senators must be so proud.
You may "win" one for yourselves and the NRA today with this vote, but like it or not, times have changed in spite of you and the conventional wisdom.
The NRA has made every excuse in the book, and you have echoed many of them as instructed. But every excuse has been shown to be hypocritical, and factual nonsense. Sane people recognize this. Yet in spite of poll numbers that have shown from 80-91% of Americans, at any given time since Newtown, including gun owners and NRA members, are in favor of the very changes you will vote against today.
When you cast that vote today, remember that you have shown your true colors. You know longer represent the people who elected you. You'll sell out your constituents and their safety and in many cases their lives, all for a share from the gun profiteers. These profiteers who spew paranoia and fan the flames of fear, making irrational arguments that no one buys. Not even you. Just head on over to C-Span and take a look at the videos as you made the same arguments.
Lindsey Graham, for instance, who today argued that background checks woud do absolutely no good, as he cited in the same breath that criminals are arrested and convicted all the time by failing background checks.
Marco Rubio, who champions any Tea Party "freedom" label from the highest bidder, has demanded background checks for immigration reform, yet none for gun ownership. Think about that.
There are no rational arguments to vote "no," and those who vote accordingly are not rational people. The majority of Americans recognize that.
So yes, we can still blame groups like the NRA for doing everything in their power to block any gun legislation. But we can also blame you for shamelessly taking their donations while earning your precious "A" grades, and allowing what happened in Newtown to happen again. Because it will probably happen again. You know that as well as we do. Your names will be forever associated with your inaction.
And when "next time" comes, it will be on you.
UPDATE: As expected, the GOP filibustered, and the background checks compromise failed, 54-46. Bill Nelson voted for the bill, and Marco Rubio voted to filibuster it.
The Republicans who voted for the bill were Sens. Pat Toomey (PA), Mark Kirk (IL), Susan Collins (ME) and John McCain (AZ). Democrats who voted against it were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK) and Mark Pryor (AR) — the latter three are up for reelection in 2014. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) changed his vote to No in the last minute to reserve the right to bring up the bill again.
In spite of Rubio and 30 others, including Democrats Mark Begich (AK) and Mark Pryor (AR), who voted to filibuster, it failed 68-31. It's just the first step, but still a failure by Rubio and the others to block any discussion, much less any changes in legislation that could work to prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Arizona, and Colorado, to name only the more recent in a long and growing list of gun deaths and mass shootings.
Republicans who voted to begin debate: Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK), Susan Collins (ME), Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), John Hoeven (ND), Johnny Isakson (GA), Mark Kirk (IL), John McCain (AZ), Pat Toomey (PA) and Roger Wicker (MS).
However, some of those same Republicans signaled that they may indeed filibuster legislation moving forward, and there's no doubt Rubio will be among them. He's made it perfectly clear that he thinks not only that Newtown families don't deserve to be heard, but that his constituents don't deserve to be heard either. 91% of Floridians favor tighter gun restrictions like background checks, but instead of listening to them, he's listening to lobbyists and those who stand to profit from gun sales. Those same people fan the flames after every mass shooting in order to sell more guns as they stoke fears that are unfounded. Those are the ones Rubio stands with. Those 26 deaths in Newtown didn't even register on Rubio's radar. They don't matter to him. Anyone who thinks otherwise should ask Erica Lafferty who he refused to speak to. (As of this writing, Rubio has yet to issue a statement on his vote. Apparently he doesn't feel Floridians, nor the rest of the country deserve an explanation either.)
Rubio, it seems, doesn't care about the deaths in Newtown, or Arizona, or Colorado any more than he cares what the people he's supposed to represent in Florida want. (If anyone from Florida who has tried to speak with him or contact him and been successful hearing back from him, I would love to hear about it.) He's turned a deaf ear on every one of them who feel gun laws need to be tightened. He proved it by proudly bragging that he'll do what it takes to prevent that and any discussion of it off the table in Washington. This shouldn't come as a surprise to Floridians. When he was running for office, he absurdly said he wanted to go to Washington to "shut it down." He also made this statement at CPAC during his campaign:
"First, we have to understand what’s happening. Leaders at the highest levels of our government are undertaking a deliberate and systematic effort to redefine our government, our economy and our country."
A fine example of projection if I've ever heard one. Perhaps lost on some voters was that Rubio was describing exactly the kind of leader he aspires to be. What better way to "redefine our government" than to block even a debate on something 91% of the country and his constituents want? If you thought Rubio believed in "freedom of speech," the joke is on you. Freedom of speech comes at a price in Marco's world, and you can't afford the price of a seat at his table. That seat is taken by the likes of the NRA.
The longer the inaction of Rubio and others, the more numbers will be added to that list. If Rubio gets his way in Washington and nothing is done, our already record-breaking numbers of gun deaths worldwide will mean even larger profits for the puppeteers holding Rubio's strings as they fuel his political ambitions which know no bounds. Rubio takes this stand as he condemns other countries, calling them cruel and repressive regimes. For a man who sees this as a way forward to becoming a potential Presidential nominee, what does that make him?
Today's failed filibuster is just a first step, but a positive sign that, in spite of those like Marco Rubio who ignore the will of 91% of Americans in favor of tighter gun laws, their voices will still be heard, and pushing back does, and will make a difference.
As President Obama said, "the time is now," and every voice will need to be heard to make positive changes to thwart more gun violence and deaths in the future. Those like Rubio who want to silence those voices can't be allowed to do so while claiming to stand for freedom of speech.
Of course, Rubio has made it pretty clear that he feels the same as McConnell does, and his political ambitions trump doing anything to protect Americans, children and adults, from gun violence. To that end, Rubio illustrated his cowardice with the filibuster threat.
Yesterday he doubled down on that when the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed attempted to contact him. Rubio continued to run scared when he refused to even take a phone call from Erica Lafferty. Lafferty also sent Rubio a message on Twitter, along with the others, saying that she deserved to be heard. When that too was met with silence, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy sent out his own plea on Twitter to Rubio and the others asking them to at least call her back.
The answer? Crickets. Only one, Republican Ted Cruz, eventually did call Lafferty back.
The pressure on Rubio continues to mount as debate on gun legislation begins today in the Senate, and as outside groups begin running ads focusing on he and others who continue to stand with gun manufacturers and groups like the NRA, rather than enacting common sense measures to prevent the next Sandy Hook.
This week, Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced that they will begin "grading" lawmakers on their gun related votes and issues just as the NRA does. Their latest ad shines the spotlight on Marco Rubio.
Rubio may well continue to ignore victims, anyone pleading that he do something to curb gun violence, and the real life consequences of his inaction, but 91% of the country, and his constituents won't. They see him for what he is, and come the next election, he won't be able to ignore the results.
Those threatening a filibuster along with Rubio: Kentucky’s Rand Paul; Utah’s Mike Lee; Texas’ Ted Cruz; Oklahoma’s James Inhofe; Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran from Kansas; North Carolina’s Richard Burr; Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Wyoming’s Mike Enzi; James Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Indiana’s Dan Coats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, announced that he would join the filibuster yesterday just as President Obama was making another emotional speech in Connecticut with the parents, husbands and family members of those killed by Adam Lanza in Newtown.
Despite the polls which show that 91% of Americans, including gun owners, many of which NRA members themselves want tighter gun laws like universal background checks, these Senators are siding with the gun manufacturers, lobbyists, and those at the top in the NRA. Worse, they're taking the coward's way out by trying to stand in the way of any debate whatsoever.
Unfortunately for them, many of their fellow Republicans aren't following their lead, and it looks as though their filibuster may fail. (Unfortunately this won't end the battle.) If that happens, their votes against the will of the voters and the Newtown family's will go on record.
Meanwhile, the DNC has released this video urging those Senators to drop the threat of a filibuster and allow an up or down vote.
The same day, Connecticut's State Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky revealed that it took Adam Lanza less than five minutes to fire 155 bullets at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and kill 26 children and adults that day. Less than five minutes. Some of those children had 11 bullets in their small bodies.
“We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,” he wrote in a statement on his website.
“The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ right to self-defense. It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.”
Rubio and his co-obstructionists are now on the record saying they will do anything it takes to stand up for the rights of the Nancy Lanza's in this country to own an entire arsenal just in case they have to defend themselves from imaginary tyranny. Rubio is on the record saying even if the Adam Lanza's happen to have easy access to that arsenal, kill their own mother with her lawfully owned gun (a lot of good those weapons did her), and then head out to a school and proceed to kill 20 children and two of their teachers in less than five minutes, he will do anything to protect the shooter's rights to do so. Not the children's rights. Not the teachers and administrators rights. The gun owner's rights, and anyone who can get their hands on those weapons.
This, apparently, is Rubio's infamous idea of "American Exceptionalism." It's exceptional all right. No other civilized country on the planet have lawmakers who would stand up for the rights of an individual to take a weapon of war to a school or a mall or a movie theater and murder as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time and call it "freedom." But this is exactly whatMarco Rubio represents.
He represents the gun manufacturers and their representatives, the NRA. The NRA doesn't really represent the gun owners. That's not where the money is. It lies with the weapon profiteers, who fund the NRA, who fund puppet Representatives and Senators, who will legislate for a price. Follow that money and you'll find Rubio holding a pot of gold at the end of his rhetorical rainbow of freedom. It wouldn't be worth the lives of the next 20 babies to change anything, even if the next poll were 100%. Boom. Rubio couldn't care less.
For all his speeches about freedom, the bottom line is what it's all about. Money. All that money from the gun lobby, the Koch brothers, Wall Street, and the list goes on. All that money gives Marco Rubio the "freedom" to tell the American people to put their beliefs in Democracy where the sun don't shine. He's got his, stinks to be you. He's just another sellout with no principles whatsoever. He's taken a stand against everything that a civilized society would want. Violence against women? He stands with the abuser. Health care? He's with the insurance companies. You lost everything to a natural disaster? Sorry, any disaster aid would be a "handout." Social Security, Medicare, student loans, legal status for immigrants? Rubio and his family are entitled to those things, but you? Prepare yourself for the new definition of an "entitlement" according to Marco. Sorry, to expect those things would be to trample on freedom. And let's not forget the big one: Abortion. Rubio will protect a fetus, no exceptions. However, once that child is born, if he or she falls victim to the Sandy Hook massacre, so be it. Freedom!
It's one thing to be a shameless hypocrite like Rubio, but it's another to say your "heart goes out to the victims and their families" yet do nothing to actually prove it. He's a father too, which makes it all the more shameless and disgusting. Imagine one day being asked by one of his children why he made sure that no protections from gun violence could pass. Anyone who has a child knows that if you tried to explain that all those children's lives were the price of freedom, they would see that twisted logic for what it is. Nonsense. Then imagine explaining his filibuster to them when the next shooting happenes. And the next. And the next.
Also released on the day that Obama made that plea for gun legislation and Rubio vowed to block it no matter what the cost, was information from search warrants along with an inventory of what police found in Lanza's car and home after the shootings. It's quite a list. It's an arsenal. And yet, it's still not enough. Rubio stands by those who will never be able to sell enough weapons, who will never have enough profits to make it worth Rubio's while to finally take a stand for the rights of school children to feel safe in their classroom without the fear that a madman will show up and start shooting. Or the fear that they'll be hit by crossfire or by accident because Rubio stood for the right to bear arms for profit, and now armed guards are "mandated" by the NRA. That may be Rubio's idea of freedom, but 91% of the American people don't agree, and they, we, are the ones at risk.
So let Marco Rubio pretend to have principles, and boast of his "love of freedom" all he wants. No sane person would believe it in the face of all the evidence. No child would buy that argument either. As a father, let him explain how someone else's children's right to live doesn't trump the rights of a gun owner and those who stand to profit when Rubio filibusters any gun law changes.
20 children and two adults died in under five minutes one morning in December, at the hands of someone who should never have had access to a weapon of war. But he did.
Former GOP Arkansas Congressman Asa Hutchinson, leader of the task force for the NRA's National School Shield Emergency Response Program, appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word Tuesday night, and among other questionable claims, said that he "didn't represent the NRA." Hutchinson was chosen by the NRA to lead the task force, and he selected the 13 task force members.
Hutchinson was vague in many of the answers he gave Lawrence O'Donnell, and avoided answering others by changing the subject.
While claiming the program and report were the result of an "independent" study, Hutchinson refused to disclose the amount he was paid as a consultant for the program. The 225 page report cost the NRA over $1 million. Hutchinson was adamant, saying he was "not speaking on behalf of the NRA.":
Hutchinson guaranteed the report maintained “full independence” from the NRA, saying “there’s no guarantee the NRA will accept these recommendations.” The NRA itself issued a response: “We need time to digest the full report. We commend Asa Hutchinson for his rapid response in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, and we are certain the contributions he and his team have made will go a long way to making America’s schools safer.”]
[Throughout his career, Hutchinson has maintained a relationship with the NRA and other gun groups. In his 1986 Senate campaign, he was endorsed by the Gun Owners of America of Washington. Hutchinson also received more than $30,000 in contributions from the NRA while running for state and federal office, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
The School Shield roll-out is featured prominently on the NRA website, of course, while they play along with the "independent" claim by posting this "response" followed with a link to the report:
We need time to digest the full report. We commend Asa Hutchinson for his rapid response in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, and we are certain the contributions he and his team have made will go a long way to making America's schools safer.
As always, the overall solutions offered are that more guns are the answer, and that the majority of proposed legislation to tighten gun laws are inadequate.
The report doesn't offer specific advice as to which type of weapon might work best for school guards, but Hutchinson suggested that either a shotgun or an AR-15 would be acceptable, in addition to a more manageable handgun.
During his interview, O'Donnell also pointed out that none of the task force members chosen by Hutchinson had any experience in schools, but rather all had security and law enforcement backgrounds.
When confronted with facts about specific circumstances that occurred in previous shootings in Arizona and Colorado where many of the NRA's claims didn't hold up to real life scenarios, Hutchinson went in another direction entirely to avoid the question and merely recited the same old NRA talking points.