Maybe we should legalize. We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people.
Sen. John McCain.
In Senate draft resolution on Syria, McCain finally meets a military action he doesn’t like.
Talking Points Memo: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he doesn’t support the Senate’s version of the resolution to authorize force in Syria, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt reported on air.
According to Hunt, McCain said that he’s opposed to the resolution because it “doesn’t make any reference to changing the momentum on the ground in Syria” and it also fails to arm the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group fighting the Assad regime there. The Arizona Republican indicated that several other senators share his misgivings about the resolution.
Although he left the door open to voting against the Syria resolution, McCain suggested Tuesday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that it would send a "seriously bad message" if Congress voted against taking military action. On Monday, McCain said it would be "catastrophic" if Congress failed to pass the resolution.
Ah yes, this is the old John McCain that all of us know and few of us love. If I were to boil this position down to one cogent point, it would be that McCain opposes this resolution precisely because it’s carefully drafted to avoid mission creep and escalation into all-out war. The resolution deals strictly with chemical weapons and McCain desperately wants us to join in the fighting with the rebels because that’s what John McCain does — if there’s a war going someplace without American involvement, McCain feels sad and left out, like the only kid not invited to a birthday party.
Of course, McCain’s dissatisfaction is the equivalent of the Peace-Lover’s Seal of Approval. Greg Sargent points out that “McCain refusing to support limited use of force resolution makes it easier for liberals and Dems to support it.” Politics is much more the art of the kneejerk contrarian than the art of the possible these days.
It’s tempting to suspect that this is McCain’s strategy to get more people on board with military action, but his reported unhappiness with the resolution is just so John McCain. He’s opposing the current draft because it’s not an open declaration of all-out war, not because he’s playing chess. He’s wanted to join in with the rebels for a very long time and if any action isn’t specifically designed to aid the rebels and topple Assad, McCain has no use for it.
McCain probably will vote for this in the end, but only because he’s settling for what, in his eyes, is the only possible alternative to doing nothing.
I mean this is not only sufficient, it is well over-sufficient. We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That’s why I think this amendment was very important.
John and Cindy McCain helpfully demonstrate the GOP’s ‘rebranding’ problem.
ThinkProgress: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has emerged as one of the Senate’s most vocal opponents of granting immigration rights to bi-national same-sex couples. But his wife said Monday that she expects his anti-LGBT views to be out of the mainstream even in his party by 2016.
McCain, who fiercely opposed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal in 2010 and voted against adding LGBT protections to the federal hate crime law. said in March that he doubts he’ll ever change his strong opposition to same-sex marriage.
Cindy McCain, his wife of 33 years, said at a Monday fundraiser for the anti-bullying Trevor Project that she believed the Republican Party would come to support legal equality for same-sex couples over the next three years: “You’re going to see a major turn. By the next presidential election I think this will be an issue that will be very much agreed on by both parties.” She added that she believes even her husband will come around, noting that the Senator “hears from his own daughters and his own children and from me a little bit about this.”
And this is what the whole rebranding effort has devolved into:”The GOP’s going to come around to your point of view any time now — just you wait! — so go ahead and vote for us now.” The Republican Party is slowly becoming rebranded as the party who are just about to stop being so stupid and hateful. Unfortunately for all the talk, there’s very little evidence that this is the case.
Ed Kilgore has a good post up about the rebranding effort, but it doesn’t lend itself to quoting — just go read it. The gist of it is that the party isn’t going to make any headway until it stops listening to people who think rebranding — minus any actual change — is all the party needs to do. They seem to think being the party of haters and hater-enablers is just fine — so long as you get people to pay attention to enablers like Cindy, while haters like John continue to do all the damage they want, just like always.
Schumer, McCain agree that legislation regulating guns will be back.
L.A. Times: Two top senators predicted Thursday that gun legislation will come up again for a Senate vote – possibly before the end of the year – as public attitudes shift toward stricter controls.
Their assessment comes after the defeat last week of a widely popular bipartisan background check measure that was drafted in response to the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., after a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people, mostly children.
“I think we’re going to bring this bill back before the end of the year and I think you may find some changes,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a chief backer of the bill, at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Lots of senators who thought it was safe to vote against it” he said, “are not so sure any more” because of changing attitudes.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a key Republican backer of the measure who spoke at the same event, concurred. “I do agree with Chuck. I think the issue is going to come back,” he said.
McCain said Congress needs to address specific aspects of gun violence that were not covered in the bill, including “the issue of crazy people who do terrible things,” as he noted the mass shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and in Tucson in his home state of Arizona.
OK, so McCain’s comment that “the issue of crazy people who do terrible things” wasn’t covered in the legislation is just straight up horseshit. The bill would’ve expanded background checks, which is how you see to it people who have been ruled unfit to own firearms don’t get their hands on firearms. If McCain — or any gun freak — can come up with another way to keep guns out the hands of these individuals, I’d love to hear it. Because it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to see who can and can’t legally own a firearm without checking.
But the good news is that this isn’t over. And it won’t be over if this next bill fails. It won’t be over if the next bill passes, but is pointlessly weak. This isn’t over until we win.
The GOP’s Hagel circus folds up its bigtop.
Steve Benen reports that the Senate ended debate on Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense, thus ending the GOP filibuster and all-but ensuring a confirmation that will likely come later today. Looking back at the dust, smoke, and debris, he notes that it’s a little hard to explain what it was all about:
While we wait for Hagel’s now-inevitable confirmation, I’m still not altogether sure what Republicans were thinking when they launched his doomed crusade against Hagel in the first place. Indeed, other than allowing everyone to laugh at Republican media over the “Friends of Hamas” fiasco last week, what was the point of forcing delays?
What did GOP officials hope to accomplish? There were a few fundraising letters, McCain got to appear on a few more Sunday shows, but the strategy never seemed to come together for the right in any kind of coherent way. They saw President Obama nominate a Republican to his cabinet; it drove them batty; they launched a weak smear campaign; and the whole effort collapsed without much effort. Last week, several Republicans, on the verge of defeat, pleaded with the White House to pull Hagel’s nomination anyway, just because.
If there was a point to the GOP’s anti-Hagel campaign, it hid well.
As near as I can tell, the main point was to get Lindsey Graham reelected. By getting all bent out of shape over crazy-assed conspiracy theories and Benghazi posturing, Lindsey was able to prove to the ‘bagger base that he’s just as stupid and gullible as they are. Apparently, that’s what it takes to win a GOP primary in South Carolina these days — you have to be (or at least pretend to be) sufficiently insane and/or moronic. Like a monkey whooping in a monkey cage, Lindsey managed to get all the other monkeys whooping and excited too.
That’s pretty much what I got out of the whole mess — and it’s still not a very good explanation. But the Republican Party is a party gone mad , so looking for rational reasons to explain their fits and tantrums is probably a fool’s errand.
I was very surprised that a senator, who has been in office for over 30 years, would address a grieving mother, who just lost her son exactly seven months prior — yesterday was the 20th, I lost my son on 7-20-2012 — to tell me that I needed ‘some straight talk.’
McCain meets GOP base, discovers they’re still insane.
[On] Tuesday, McCain hosted two town hall meetings in Arizona, during which he defended his immigration plan to upset residents concerned about border security. A bipartisan group of senators — including Arizona Republicans McCain and Jeff Flake — want assurances on border security as Congress weighs what could be the biggest changes to immigration law in nearly 30 years. Arizona is the only state with both of its senators working on immigration reform in Congress, a sign of the state’s widely debated border security issues.
During a heated town hall gathering in the Phoenix suburb of Sun Lakes, McCain said the border near Yuma is largely secure, but he said smugglers are using the border near Tucson to pump drugs into Phoenix. He said immigration reform should be contingent on better border security that must rely largely on technology able to detect border crossings.
McCain said a tamper-proof Social Security card would help combat identity fraud, and noted any path to citizenship must require immigrants to learn English, cover back taxes and pay fines for breaking immigration laws.
“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” he said. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.”
This did not go well. AP reports that “Some audience members shouted out their disapproval.”
One man yelled that only guns would discourage illegal immigration. Another man complained that illegal immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote. A third man said illegal immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits.
Of course, John McCain knows how crazy the GOP base has gotten over the years. If he didn’t, he never would’ve inflicted Sarah Palin on the nation. These people are a monster of the GOP’s own creation; the result of using Fox News, talk radio, and rightwing blogs to sway public opinion. Now, when Republicans speak to their base, they’re speaking to a crowd of ignorant, panicked, and intolerant dopes who repeat the unworkable wingnut media talking points back at them.
And this is what’s going to throw the Republicans’ big plan for a party makeover. They can’t change anything without pissing off the base and they can’t win over new voters without changing anything. In the end, self-interest kicks in, elected officials realize they need the base to be reelected, and all plans for change go out the window. Their own efforts to drive Americans crazy have now doomed them to further and deeper irrelevance.
Republicans are victims of their own success. Serves them right.
GOP realizing Hagel filibuster’s diminishing returns.
Republican opponents are sending signals that Chuck Hagel’s bid to become defense secretary will probably come to an up-or-down vote soon in the Senate.
That’s unless more information damaging to the nominee – and the Obama administration – surfaces in the coming week.
Critics maintain the decorated Vietnam combat veteran and former senator is unqualified to lead the U.S. military. A top White House official expressed “grave concern” over the delayed confirmation vote, adding that there was nothing to worry about in any disclosures that may yet come.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, a key Republican on defense matters, said Sunday that he doesn’t believe Hagel, a one-time colleague and friend, is qualified. “But I don’t believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think it’s (been) a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered.”
OK, so that’s really stupid. Since Republicans filibustered Hagel, there haven’t been any additional questions — congress is in recess. So the filibuster delayed the vote for “a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered” — except that during this additional time, no additional questions were answered.
What we’re seeing here is Senate Republicans beginning to get squeamish about using the filibuster. Throughout this sorry episode, Republicans have been denying that it’s a filbuster, saying they were merely delaying the vote. But, as we’re now seeing, the delay was completely pointless. It was just slowing down the confirmation for the sake of slowing down the confirmation. A useless endeavor that amounted to muscle-flexing and shadow boxing — then running away screaming when the other guy puts up his dukes,