(I wrote and posted this ten years ago. It’s one of those memories that hasn’t gone away, as is the sight of the dual contrails in the sky the day Challenger blew up and the crash of planes into the World Trade Center.)
40 years ago today I was a 13-year old 8th grader at Edgar Allen Poe Intermediate in Alexandria, Va. It was an ordinary school day until about 2:20 in the afternoon, when we were changing classrooms, and suddenly a rumor was flying that the President had been shot. That was confirmed about 10 minutes later, and we were sent home early. I got home to find my mother in shock (Dad was in Antarctica), and we spent the remainder of the weekend, as did so many other Americans, glued to the TV screen. We were in disbelief, of course; “this doesn’t happen in America,” we thought. Of course, it had happened before, as we all quickly learned. That weekend I learned more about McKinley, Garfield, Harrison and other Presidential deaths in office than I’d ever learned before. I was fortunate enough to wangle a ride to Arlington Cemetery on that Monday, the 25th, where I stood about 500-1000 yards from the gravesite, along with many many other people. Neither Mom nor I have any memory of who I got a ride with, why she felt it was OK for me to go, or any other details. I just remember standing there among all those people, trying to make sense of it.
Since then this country has had similar national tragedies, of course, from the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. through the Challenger explosion to September 11. In every instance it seemed to me that time just stopped for several days as we all sat in front of television screens trying to absorb what we were seeing. To me, the different thing about the JFK assassination is that it was a double shock; first the President’s murder, followed two days later by the murder of the suspected killer (on national television, no less). I think the Oswald murder was the catalyst for all the subsequent conspiracy theories; to my knowledge nobody has ever seriously espoused similar theories about the RFK or MLK murders. The killing of the principal suspect by a nobody is a plot line we’ve all read in murder mysteries; Ruby had no known motive for shooting Oswald, so he must have been a pawn for a larger interest. I’ve never bought any of the theories; despite the fact that he had been living in Russia for a while, and he had suspicious contacts with Cuba, I think those were incidental. I think Oswald acted alone.
The Democrats finally did it. They acted to defeat Republican obstructionism by filibuster, changing the rules to allow simple majority votes to advance judicial and executive branch nominations.
Many Democrats had been very hesitant to act, fearing that the move would boomerang when Republicans won back control of the Senate and the White House. But they say the level of obstruction had gone too far, including the unsuccessful filibuster of the nomination of Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, as defense secretary.
Democrats say Republicans have been so successful in slowing the Senate that there is little more they can do to paralyze the institution, part of the reason that Democrats were finally willing to make the change.
Senator Roger Vicker (R-Mississippi) gets my vote for Best Use of Selective Memory. He claimed that the Democrats’ rule change reminded him of the votes on the Affordable Care Act, conveniently forgetting that that law was discussed for more than a year in various committees and on the floor of the Senate, a year in which he and his Republican colleagues refused to vote for it even after many of their ideas to improve the law were discussed and some incorporated into it.
This annual event always gives Obama a chance to make jokes. He didn’t disappoint this year either.
“Early in Oprah Winfrey’s career her bosses told her she should change her name to Susie,” President Obama quipped in introducing Winfrey. “I have to pause here to say I got the same advice.” He then assured the crowd gathered that his advice was merely to change his name, although “not to Susie.”
It’s a shame he couldn’t honor Johnny Cash’s memory by breaking into “A Boy Named Sue.”
He also honored Sally Ride, Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Ernie Banks, Bayard Rustin, Dan Inouye of Hawai’i, Ben Bradlee and Loretta Lynn, among others.
Full video here:
But we knew that, right? Today the five conservatives on the Supreme Court all refused to block a Texas law restricting abortions by requiring doctors who perform them to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
The court’s conservative majority refused the plea of Planned Parenthood and several Texas abortion clinics to overturn a preliminary federal appeals court ruling that allowed the provision to take effect.
The four liberal justices dissented.
Okay, but why do you title your post that way, Link?
The five justices and three appeals court judges who sided with Texas are all Republican appointees. The four dissenting justices are Democratic appointees. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who initially blocked the provision, is a Republican appointee.
The case remains on appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans; this decision was on an emergency appeal from Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups in Texas to allow abortions to continue until the appeal is decided in the spring of 2014.
While it has no bearing on this particular court, this is why the filibuster must be repealed and judicial appointments be made by simple majority vote. President Obama’s appointments are all being blocked and as a result federal courts remain tilted toward Republican policies.
Another vote on a judicial nominee, another filibuster by Senate Republicans.
For the third time in just as many weeks, Republicans filibustered another one of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Senate voted 53-28 today on a procedural vote on the nomination of Robert Wilkins to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, falling short of invoking cloture by seven votes.
Over the past three weeks, Senate Republicans have stopped all nominations to fill the three vacant seats on the 11-person D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the court’s caseload is very light. In previous weeks, the Senate failed to move onto the nominations of Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court.
Okay, Senate Democrats, that’s got to be it. Change the damned rules of your oh-so-precious and oh-so-dysfunctional legislative body. Allow the majority to prevail, rather than letting the minority dictate what does and doesn’t get done in the upper House of Congress. Change the rule for cloture passage to a simple majority of the Senate, not two-thirds.
I can hear your conservative tradition-bound members now: “What if we do and the Republicans get the majority?” Listen, folks, if you think Mitch McConnell won’t get rid of the filibuster the first time you block a Republican President’s nominee you’re smoking some of that stuff that’s legal in Colorado. You’re delusional, in other words.
Change the damned rules.
Bah. Yesterday we had a Sears guy in to replace the ice maker in our fridge. This thing broke about six weeks after we bought the machine and did so one more time before we said “Okay, we don’t like maintenance contracts ordinarily but this thing is a lemon” and bought one. We have not been sorry. The ice maker has failed at least six times in nine years.
Anyway. The tech replaced the component and then discovered the fuse for it was blown. I turned off the circuit breaker so he could work on the electrical connections. When he was done and tested the connections with his meter I tried to turn the breaker back on. No luck. It won’t go back into the on position and stay there. So we had to scramble through the Rolodex for electricians. We found one who’s worked for us before but he can’t come till Saturday.
He got here today and found he didn’t have the right size breaker to replace it, so he fiddled and got it to go back in the ON position. He’ll get the right size and come back tomorrow or Monday. But. Pushing the fridge back into place is gouging the vinyl floor, so he’s going to find some moving casters to slide under the wheels to keep it from ripping the floor.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a fridge out in the middle of the kitchen. It looks like takeout for us tonight.
I’m pretty sure that had President Obama said something like “If you’ve got an employer-provided health plan then you can keep it” he’d have been off the hook for all this foofaraw we’ve been hearing about insurance companies cancelling plans. The trouble is, everyone who was in the individual market took his “if you like it you can keep it” message to heart. Had they paid attention to the first half of that sentence they might have said “you know, I really don’t like this policy. The only good thing about it is that it’s fairly inexpensive. So let me see what new plans are available and how much they cost before I screech.”
I blame the insurance companies some too, since they didn’t bother to explain to their policyholders that the cancellations were a) the normal way of doing business and b) only the ACA’s fault in that the cancelled plans didn’t meet the minimum health care requirements of the Act.
The Takeaway this morning had a story about a retiring cricket player in India. Apparently he’s the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, the bomb. To cricket fans he’s Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron and Michael Jordan rolled into one. So what’s he gonna do in retirement? The reporter said “he’s probably going to sit down, take a breath and listen to Dire Straits.”
Well, I can’t argue with listening to Dire Straits, so . . . here’s the song the program played at the end of the segment.
The number of states in the United States which have made same-sex marriage legal, that is.
At 10:00AM today Governor Neil Abercrombie signed SB1, House Draft 1 into law.
Any state legislators looking for the text of this historical law can find it here.