It's amazing, it truly is: as far right wing as many elected Republican are these days, it never seems to be far right wing enough for their most rabid, teahadist supporters. For instance, a number of elected Republicans have shown class in their responses to the death of Nelson Mandela. That, in spite of the fact that Mandela was proudly a man of the left, a "democrat and a socialist", who also was a "die-hard supporter of labor unions," a strong critic of the war in Iraq and the "war on terror," and someone who "considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere."
Despite all that, Virginia Republican politicians - including Bob McDonnell, Eric Cantor, and even E.W. Jackson - had nice things to say about Mandela upon the news of his death yesterday. For instance, Jackson wrote that Mandela was "courageous," a "great man," and "exactly the leader South Africa needed - even if he didn't start out that way." For his part, Gov. McDonnell wrote that Mandela was "one of the true giants of history," a man who "lived a life that broke down barriers, tore down walls, and lifted up a nation, a people, and a world." McDonnell added, "This is a better world for the long and uplifting life of Nelson Mandela." Finally, Eric Cantor commented, "The world has lost an exceptional leader who made the world a better place."
Many of the responses to these comments, to put it mildly, didn't match the class of E.W. Jackson, McDonnell and Cantor in this case. For instance, Cantor has now received 400+ responses, the overwhelming majority of which are negative - even viciously so. For instance: "Mandela was a communist and a terrorist!;" "he and his animal of a wife were mass murderers and torturers;" "You've got to be kidding...he was responsible for the murder of over 20,000 people;" and "The world has lost a Marxist/Communist dictator! Mr. Cantor, are you falling in line with Obama's minions??"; and "I'm saddened and disappointed to see such a post." Yikes.
How about responses to E.W. Jackson? Not much better, although there are a lot fewer comments than to Eric Cantor (apparently not many people care what Jackson has to say at this point). A few examples: "This man was a straight up communist;" "And he gave all South Africans the right to abortion on demand;" "Hope he knew Christ as his savior;" and "You, Mr. Jackson, have bought into the communist/Marxist/liberal ideology of rewriting history and eliminating history by making Mandela into a saint." Well, alrighty then.
Finally, Bob McDonnell appears to have deleted the entire thread, as there are now no comments at all. I can just imagine how bad it must have been for them to do that...
Of course, I'd point out that Nelson Mandela was far to the left of Barack Obama, who Republicans routinely call a commie (and many other choice words). I'd also point out that many leading Republicans - Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney, Jack Kemp - opposed sanctions against the white, apartheid regime in South Africa. So yeah, Republicans have some serious "issues" when it comes to consistency here, but still...c'mon, a great man just died, and THIS is what spews out from right wingers on their "leaders'" Facebook pages, just for saying a few appropriate words at the death of a major 20th century historical figure, one admired by billions of people around the world? Scary.
P.S. Ken Cuccinelli hasn't said a word about Mandela's death on his Facebook page. Nor has Mark Obenshain. Rep. Bob Goodlatte wrote "We have lost a great leader." Rep. Frank Wolf said "Nelson Mandela's unyielding fight against apartheid was truly heroic and evidence of an unyielding belief in the basic dignity of every person" (lots of nasty responses on Wolf's page as well). Rep. Scott Rigell said "the world lost a remarkable and truly transformational figure in Nelson Mandela" (several nasty responses to that one). Rep. Robert Hurt wrote "The world has lost a great leader." Etc, etc.
From Sen. Kaine's office, this is where he is and what's he's doing right now:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, during a visit to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet (NAVCENT) in Bahrain, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine toured the Norfolk-based USS San Jacinto and met with Virginians serving with the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
"I had the chance to board and visit the crew of the USS San Jacinto which deployed out of Norfolk a few months back when the Harry S. Truman deployed. They're in dock here in Bahrain and I had a chance to visit with them and have lunch with a number of Virginians who serve in the Navy and a couple of folks in the Marines as well," said Kaine. "I talked with them about a range of issues, from the bigger picture security challenges facing the region, to how come traffic is still so bad in Hampton Roads. Any time I have a chance to spend time with those who serve and especially those from Virginia who serve, I always walk away with a sense of pride and admiration."
While in Bahrain, Kaine is participating in the 2013 Manama Dialogue, the International Institute for Strategic Studies' 9th annual regional security conference.
Yes, yet again it's Marion G. "Pat" Robertson, who has given the Virginia GOP and its candidates hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And still, not one of those people has condemned Robertson's almost-constant stream of bigoted, offensive comments. By that, can we conclude that they agree with what he has to say? Seems reasonable at this point.
As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was walking down a Congressional office hall on Wednesday, a girl identified by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) as 9-year-old Liz Maquez attempted to ask him to help move immigration reform forward on behalf of her undocumented father. Without allowing Liz to ask her question, Cantor immediately responded that he couldn't help her.
What a mensch. Not. Of course, the truth is that Eric Can'tor absolutely CAN help this girl, as well as millions of others, by simply allowing the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate a few months ago to come to a vote in the House of Representatives, where it would almost certainly pass. So, Can'tor's not only a cold-blooded jerk, he's also a liar. Great combo, huh?
P.S. Of course, Can'tor's too busy trying to scuttle diplomacy with Iran (which would sharply increase the chances of war) and ranting about "Obamacare" to bother himself with a 9-year-old girl...or with doing his freakin' job!
I was just reading this article about how "[t]ensions between China and Japan, at their worst in half a century, are making conflict 'much more likely now than it's probably been in years,'" and how the focus of that tension is "over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea - the Chinese call them Diaoyu and the Japanese call them Senkaku." I immediately thought back to the October 2006 debate in Richmond between Jim Webb and George Allen (I was in Webb's "war room" for that one), in which Webb completely stumped Allen as to what these islands are and why they might matter. Given recent developments between Japan and China, we all know now what Jim Webb knew then (and what George Allen had no clue about, despite the fact that he was in the U.S. Senate at the time).
A new CNN poll finds that despite wildly biased media coverage of the Affordable Care Act (aka, "Obamacare") rollout, guess what? That's right, it turns out the American people remain relatively positive about it. Exhibit A: Although the top-line numbers show that only 40% of Americans support "Obamacare" while 58% oppose it, when you look more carefully it's quite a different story. In fact, it turns out that just 41% of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act because it's "too liberal," while 40% support it. Then there are 14% who oppose it, but only because it's not liberal enough. Add up the 40% who support "Obamacare," and the 14% who want it to go even further, and guess what? That's right, you've got 54% who want health care reform (either "Obamacare" or something more liberal) vs. 40% who don't. That may not be the media narrative, but it happens to be the truth.
Second, despite the constant drumbeat about how horrible the rollout of healthcare.gov has been (did I mention HORRIBLE?!? DISASTROUS?!? heh), the American people actually remain generally optimistic about it. As you can see, by a 54%-45% margin, Americans believe the problems will "eventually be solved," which is the correct answer of course. I mean, the fact is that in states like California where the website is working - as Paul Krugman pointed out earlier this week - "enrollment is surging," with "more than 10,000 applications...being completed per day, putting the state well on track to meet its overall targets for 2014 coverage." Again, you'll almost never read about this in the corporate media, but it's reality nonetheless. Fortunately, the American people appear to be far smarter than the corporate media gives them credit for. Also, perhaps people have simply stopped paying attention to all the doom-and-gloom nonsense the media churns out? Either way, it's good to see.
Recently, I was speaking with a Roman Catholic friend who is a great admirer of Pope Francis, and he remarked that the College of Cardinals may have thought they were picking a conservative, but that they were deeply mistaken. Instead, it appears that they picked a true follower of the teachings of (Essene/Jewish Rabbi) Jesus in the Gospels, which of course were highly progressive even by today's standards, let alone for the times in which Jesus lived. In recent months, we've heard Pope Francis criticize a church which had "grown 'obsessed' with gay marriage, abortion and contraception." Pope Francis has also spoken out about what he called the "tyranny" of capitalism, about how "the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling," how "the worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal," and also how "not to share one's goods with the poor is to rob them." For any Republican Roman Catholic out there who thinks that the moderate, pro-capitalist Barack Obama is a "socialist" or whatever, I'd like to introduce you to not one but TWO real "socialists" - Pope Francis and Jesus. :)
Now, Pope Francis is out with an "84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, [that amounts] to an official platform for his papacy." Here are a few highlights from this superb document, all of which completely refute - even demolish - conservative (aka, "trickle down"/"supply side") economics. I've added bolding for emphasis.
November 22, 1963 was bound to be an important day for me. On that day, as a college freshman, I was to travel down to New Haven, Connecticut, for Harvard-Yale weekend. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have gone to an away game, but I was the quarterback of an undefeated intramural touch football team that was scheduled to play Yale's undefeated intramural champions.
When we got to the playing field at Yale, people were strangely clumped around cars with their radios on, and the doors open. We asked what was going on, and we were told, "The president has been shot in Dallas." It was of course unbelievable.
I had felt especially connected with JFK, having seen him only a few weeks before, when he unexpectedly showed up at the Columbia game. Sitting there in the stadium, surrounded by his Secret Service retinue, even at a distance the beauty of the man was visible, his auburn hair radiating life in the sun. How could someone look so extraordinary even across a whole football field?
And now he'd been shot.
Was he OK, we wanted to know? Would he live? Nobody knew. Only that he'd been rushed to the hospital in Dallas.
We were supposed to start our game, and no one was there to tell us differently. So we played the game. We won, using a trick play I still like to remember. But the whole game happened under a cloud of uncertainty and gloom.
When the game was over, it was known. President Kennedy was dead. The president had been assassinated.
As you can see in the graphic, Senate Republicans have brought the nation's top legislative body close to a standstill. As Majority Leader Reid said a few minutes ago, "- "Can anyone say the Senate is working now? I don't think so!"
But it's worse than that; as Jonathan Capehart wrote yesterday, "The GOP is out to destroy the country." And we've seen it over and over again, on issues of all types, as Republicans completely abuse the filibuster, something that's not even in the constitution, I'd point out. Anyway, it now may be coming to a head. I'm watching the debate on CSPAN right now. Check it out.
P.S. After Reid proposed no more filibusters on judicial or executive nominees, except for Supreme Court, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began ranting and raving about...yep, you guess it, "Obamacare!" Yep, these people are nothing if not monomaniacal. Oh, and of course, he's also blaming his own caucus' disgraceful behavior on...yep, the Democrats. Hahahaha.
UPDATE 11:09 am: The Senate is now voting to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett to serve on the D.C. Circuit. Sen. Kaine's statement on that one is available here.
UPDATE 11:13 am: Sen. Warner tweets, "It's time to break this gridlock: Senate voting a 2nd time on Va's very qualified Patricia Millett for DC circuit court."
UPDATE 11:19 am: Senators Warner and Kaine both voted "aye."
UPDATE 11:27 am: Joshua Israel of Think Progress tweets, "This the the motion to RECONSIDER the rejected cloture on Millett. Collins and Murkowski voted for cloture originally."
UPDATE 11:27 am: The vote was 57-40 (and 3 voting present), so cloture fails. Sen. Reid moves to reconsider the Millett nomination. Sen. McConnell now asking ridiculous rhetorical questions about how wonderful Republicans have supposedly been.
UPDATE 11:31 am: The NY Times reports, "Senate Democrats on Thursday moved toward a vote to drastically limit Republican efforts to block President Obama's nominees, a change that would mark the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, set in motion a series of procedural steps that, if followed through, would eliminate the use of the filibuster against nominees to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary."
UPDATE 11:32 am: Senate now voting on Sen. McConnell's motion to adjourn until 5 pm today.
UPDATE 11:40 am: Both Senators Warner and Kaine vote no on McConnell's motion.
UPDATE 11:46 am: By a 54-46 vote, the motion to adjourn has been defeated. The roll is now being called to reconsider the Millett nomination.
UPDATE 12:04 pm: Senators Warner and Kaine both voted "aye." The motion to reconsider the Millett nomination passes by a simple majority. Wow.
UPDATE 12:09 pm: Politico reporter @mkraju tweets, "Reid can now raise a point of order that a simple majority should be able to move nominations; Chair rules no. Senate will overturn." In other words, Harry Reid has pulled the trigger on the "nuclear" option. Go Harry!
UPDATE 12:17 pm: HuffPo reporter Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) tweets, "The vote happening now is the big one. In classic senate fashion, a no means yes. If a majority votes no, filibuster is gone for nominees." Gotta love the Senate! LOL
UPDATE 12:20 pm: Dems should have done this years ago...this is looooong overdue!
this is loooooong overdue. Oh, and President Obama needed to stop hoping Republicans would be reasonable back in the spring of 2009.
UPDATE 12:28 pm: NY Times reporter @jonathanweisman tweets, "Three Senate Democrats have voted against obliterating the filibuster on judges: Levin, Manchin and Pryor." Still should be enough for the "nuclear option" to pass.
UPDATE 12:31 pm: Quick review of what brought this about - Republicans have been suppressing votes, using the filibuster, using the hold, gerrymandering, you name it - everything to block the will of the majority. In so doing, they have made Congress completely dysfunctional. Finally, Senate Dems have said "enough is enough." It's about freakin' time.
UPDATE 12:33 pm: By a 52-48 vote, the ruling of the chair is not sustained.
Along with Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is often considered the greatest speech in American history. And for good reason, as it encapsulates - in just 272 absolutely perfect words - everything this nation stands for. Or maybe I should say "everything this nation SHOULD stand for." Just to pick out one phrase that I think is particularly relevant today, let's go with the final words of the Gettysburg Address: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Are we living up to those words today? Sadly, I don't think so. If anything, I'd say we're getting closer to "government of the powerful, by the wealthy, for the corporations" - another "Robber Baron" era, but perhaps even worse - than what our government SHOULD be all about. We also have a major political party - ironically, going by the same name as Lincoln's party (although the Republicans have changed dramatically since 1863, in ways Lincoln would no doubt be horrified by, if he even recognized what the GOP has morphed into) - with a fundamental hostility to government in general, let alone by/of/for the people.
I mean, think about it: we just got through a presidential election in which the Republican Party's candidate for the position Lincoln once held stated his bizarre belief that "corporations are people." As if that's not bad enough, we're currently witnessing the results of a relentless, multi-decade assault by Republicans on the very idea of collective action - and specifically of governmental action - working to better the lives of all Americans. The latest example: the monomaniacal (not to mention mostly irrational, bordering on hysterical, even unhinged) assault on the Affordable Care Act, which ironically is largely modeled after Republican and conservative think tank ideas (e.g., the individual mandate), for the "sin" of trying to make Americans lives better. As Andy Schmookler has written here on numerous occasions, this is just one manifestation of the dark, twisted spirit we see in today's Republican Party. That this party was known as the "Party of Lincoln" 7 score and 10 years ago seems a cruel irony today.
As you've undoubtedly noticed by now, the corporate media is utterly fixated on its preferred narrative about the Affordable Care Act - that it's a debacle (not true), that Democrats are in full rebellion (they're not), and that 2014 is ruined (it's not). But facts be damned; they've got their erroneous, simplistic, even brain-dead narrative and they're sticking with it, come hell or high water. Until they change it, of course, in a few days or weeks, after they get bored with this one. In the meantime, it's great to see former (and hopefully FUTURE) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calmly and cooly swatting away rabid lap dog David Gregory. Check it out.
By the way, I need to write more on this but for now let me just say that the absolute LAST people in the world who have any standing to criticize "Obamacare" are Republicans. For starters, it's largely based on their ideas, such as the individual mandate and the 1993 Republican alternative to "Hillarycare." Second, and perhaps more importantly, since Day #1 Republicans have had it in for "Obamacare" - and more broadly, President Obama - which means that anything you hear from them has ZERO credibility. Finally, Republicans have never offered a serious alternative to "Obamacare," since apparently they don't have one. Again, they have ZERO credibility or standing to criticize this law. They saying "lead, follow, or get the @#$@# out of the way" comes to mind here.
Look, this situation with the rollout of the healthcare.gov website and the issue of people being told by their insurance companies that their plans have been canceled clearly isn't good. With regard to the website, it obviously has to be made to work properly, and soon - no two ways about that one. Fortunately, it appears that this will be accomplished, the only question being how quickly. On the second issue, I believe that President Obama addressed it forthrightly in this press conference. The explanation of what's going on with this made a great deal of sense to me, and reassured me that President Obama was speaking honestly, based on everything he understood at the time, when he promised that Americans could keep their health care plans if they liked them. It's a long press conference, but I'd say well worth watching, as it's one of the most important - if not THE most important - of Barack Obama's entire presidency.
Let's face it, as well-intentioned in many ways as the Affordable Care Act was, and as many good things that it brings to the table, it's a seriously, seriously flawed method for achieving universal, affordable, high-quality health care coverage in this country. It has also turned out to be terrible politics (see this new poll, for example); killing Democrats politically in 2010; feeding the Tea Party monster red meat and contributing to its takeover of the House of Representatives (and thus all the dysfunction and extremism we're seeing on budgeting, the debt ceiling, and a million other issues); and now threatening to squander what HAD been Democrats' increasingly rosy prospects for the 2014 midterms.
The fact is, this entrenchment of the private, for-profit health insurance industry, while tweaking it in a gazillion different ways, was the wrong way to go about health care reform in this country. This isn't "Monday Morning QB'ing," as I argued strongly for a robust public option and was highly skeptical of this approach while it was being debated. Of course, I strongly supported - and still support - the "Affordable Care Act" approach IF the option was doing nothing at all. But still, we could have done so much better, it seems to me (and please, explain to me specifically why we couldn't have, if you believe that to be the case).
In part the problem is the Affordable Care Act approach is overly complicated, truly a Ruby Goldberg-esque contraption if I've ever see one. That alone handed the Republicans an easy (albeit idiotic) talking point to bash Democrats on, that this plan was thousands of pages long and that almost nobody had read it or understood it.
Second, let's face it: this plan doesn't fundamentally get at the core problem in the U.S., which is that we spend more than basically any other advanced, industrialized country in exchange for WORSE OUTCOMES. As if that's not bad enough, this plan doesn't achieve universal coverage, nor does it truly "bend the cost curve" as it could have (e.g., with a robust public option). What a bargain, huh?
Third, by mandating that people purchase coverage, but only from private/for-profit companies, we got the worst of all worlds: bad politics (e.g., Republican attacks and constitutional challenges, including from Virginia's own Ken Cuccinelli on the "individual mandate," which of course was a conservative idea to begin with but whatever...); and fundamentally bad policy (entrenching the private, for-profit health care industry without even offering a robust public option for people). Great, huh?
Fourth, in part because it was made so ridiculously complicated, health care reform took wayyyy too long during 2009 and 2010, basically sucking up President Obama's first two years, when we also needed to be focusing on the economic recovery, comprehensive immigration reform, and - hello?!? - climate change! (also, why on earth did we spend months on end waiting for Max Baucus - huge blunder on that one). Again, I said all this at the time, so this isn't "Monday morning QB'ing." Today, if anything, it's even more mind boggling. What on earth was the White House - and other Democrats, including Bill Clinton, who predicted that once the plan was passed, people would LOVE it! - thinking on this?
Fifth, the conservative Supreme Court made matters worse by making a key part of the ACA - Medicaid expansion - optional, not mandatory, for the states. So now we're fighting THAT battle as well, including right here in Virginia, where that issue will likely take up much of Gov.-elect McAuliffe's first year (or longer) in office.
Finally, the way the ACA is constructed, it gives Republicans at both the federal AND state levels tons of opportunities to sabotage/derail healthcare reform's effective implementation - and boy have they done so! And now, as an added bonus, they're gearing up the cheap-shot (but possibly effective) attacks on Democrats up for reelection in 2014, including Virginia Senator Mark Warner (see this video, for instance). Great, huh?
But, you say, the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") was the best our political system could have produced, given the Joe Liebermans and Blanche Lincolns and other insurance industry tools of the world (not to mention absolute Republican opposition to a health care plan that was largely modeled on their own freakin' ideas!). Except I'm not convinced this was the best our political system could have produced. Instead, why didn't we just do this?
This is disturbing on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. For starters, Sheldon Adelson isn't just some crazy guy, he's one of the top donors (he very well may be #1) to Republicans - including $1.5 million against Tim Kaine last year - in our country's history. Other donations by Adelson include $500k to George W. Bush's 2nd inauguration, something like $30 million in the 2008 election against Barack Obama, and untold millions to Republicans like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and the Republican National Committee. Also disturbing is to see the students at Yeshiva University not only NOT booing Adelson off the stage for advocating the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, but actually cheering him on. I find this to be absolutely appalling, and I say this as someone born and raised Jewish, who has studied in Israel, and who strongly supports Israel's right to live in peace as a Jewish state within defensible borders. Neither Sheldon Adelson nor the students in that audience at Yeshiva University speak for me, or I'm confident for most American Jews. Absolutely. Appalling.
I was a huge fan of Obama's for the year before his inauguration. Much of the time since the first few months of his presidency, I've been intensely frustrated and disappointed by what I see as his weakness in dealing with an opposition determined to make him fail, regardless of the damage to the nation. Today, I believe I saw something that says he's undergone a real and basic transformation, a movement into a place of deep strength.
The way he stood his ground during the recent standoff with the Republicans in Congress showed he'd learned a lesson. That's important, but it doesn't necessarily show a transformation: the idea that "this time we don't pay ransom to hostage-takers" can represent a decision, undertaken at a level of conscious strategy, and does not necessarily show a deeper movement of heart and soul away from weakness and into a place of strength.
But here the President was, talking about his signature accomplishment precisely because of the problems that have beset its launch, and the President seemed to be strong in a way that comes from the core, strong in a way that I've not seen much in the past.
In the past, I've often thought that he was good at ACTING as if he was strong, but that he didn't really own that strength. Today I felt that here was a man who had settled into the fact that he is President of the United States, that he can prevail over his enemies, that he can make good things happen, that he is comfortable in the possession of not only the power of his office but also his inner power.
Sociopaths make the Kool-Aid. The Crazies are the ones who drink it.
Sociopathy and craziness have this in common: they are both forms of human "brokenness."
Sociopaths are broken in their not being connected with the rest of humanity by bonds of empathy. They serve only themselves, using and exploiting others, caring nothing about the consequences for others or the greater good. This captures well what Ted Cruz has been doing, and before him, on the right, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Karl Rove.
The Crazies, such as we see on the right, are broken in the fundamental disconnect between what they believe about the world they're living in and the realities of that world. Sociopaths can manipulate them into obsessing about non-existent threats, and into ignoring the genuine threats to their well-being, their liberties, and the prospects for their children.
Both sociopathy and craziness create channels for the advancement in the world of a force that could appropriately be called "Evil." Evil can be understood as a pattern of brokenness that works to spread itself, and that imparts its brokenness --does damage-- to everything that it touches.
This "Evil" not only creates brokenness, but it also exploits brokenness as it works to increase its power in the human world.
There are always some sociopaths in a population, but Evil succeeds by enabling sociopaths to rise to positions of power in a socio-cultural system. That a voice like Limbaugh's wields such power in America, that a politician like Ted Cruz can be mentioned as a presidential contender, is a sign of how far the force of brokenness has advanced in our times.
WASHINGTON - Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran today slammed a controversial House Rules change forced by the Republican majority that gives House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sole authority to prevent the House from voting for a clean funding bill to end the federal government shutdown.
At a Capitol Hill press conference, Connolly and Moran pointed out that the shutdown has hurt Virginia, more than any other state. "Our people are hurting," Connolly said.
Virginia is home to more than 185,000 federal employees. It has a strong military presence and a large number of veterans. One-third of the state's economy is dependent on federal spending and federal contracting is big business in the Commonwealth.
"This affects real lives. Imagine the shock all of us had when we learned the power since October 1st -- the power to bring a clean CR to the floor that so many of our fellow members of Congress have said they would support, including four Republicans and three Democrats in the Virginia delegation -- was in the hands of a Virginian, Eric Cantor," Connolly said. "So we call on him to use that power and allow a vote to reopen the government and to stop the suffering of our fellow Virginians."
Under the House Rules in force for two centuries, any member of the House could bring up the Senate-passed "clean continuing resolution." But under the Rules change passed by the House majority in early October, only Cantor can bring up the bill.
"The House majority would not have added this language if they didn't know that a clear CR would pass if brought to the floor. They didn't even restrict the power to a member of the Majority. They only gave it to House Majority Leader Cantor," Connolly said.
As I write this, there is a shred of uncertainty about whether President Obama will continue until the end standing firm on his position that there will be no concessions made to hostage-takers. I hope he gives not an inch on that.
Regardless, the unfolding of this crisis proves quite clearly that the best way to disempower the dark spirit that drives these right-wing bullies is to take the right stand and then stand one's ground.
Here once again we see a recapitulation of the drama leading up to the Civil War.
It would be very easy to document, extensively, the proposition that the South of the 1850s, in its conduct toward the North, and the Republican Party of the past fifteen years, in its conduct toward the Democrats, have been bullies.
Arguably, the Northerners of the years before the Civil War were less cowed by the Southern bullies than the Democrats of our times have been by the Republicans. But the Southerners believed that, though the North might complain about the South's breaking up of the Union, when push came to shove they would back down. The Yankee might get upset and sue you, one Southerner said, but he won't fight.
What they hadn't counted on was the extraordinary quality of character of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was an unusually humane and conciliatory person. That came through in all his communications to the South prior to the outbreak of the war. But he was also resolute.
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