#FaithfulFilibuster: Bible Thumping on Capitol Hill

While the House Republicans “fiddle” on their ideological violins, garbage piles up in “Rome,” oil spills and massive numbers of cattle are killed in North Dakota with no government agency open to help respond to the crisis, thousands are out of work.

Sojourners and friends launched the “Faithful Filibuster” last Wednesday, promising to read all 2,000 verses in the Bible that deal with justice and the poor for as long as the House Republicans continue to hold our citizens hostage.

On Saturday afternoon we got to Revelation. This morning we are starting over again in Genesis. (You can join on Twitter at #FaithfulFilibuster and send your own Bible verses.)

The video above is a clip of me taking my turn and reading from Jeremiah 22 on Saturday on Capitol Hill.

Norm Ornstein: Romney vs. ‘Young Guns’ in 2013

On the radio show “To The Point,” Norm Ornstein, Congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative D.C.-based think tank, gave an insightful look into what the “Young Gun” Republicans (Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan) have planned for Congress after the election.

Ornstein, with Congressional scholar Thomas Mann,  is co-author of  It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. Here’s the critical excerpt:

“The decision to use the debt limit as a hostage taking event was cooked up well before the 2010 elections. It was a conscious approach by the ‘young guns,’ as they call themselves–[Eric] Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan. It was the first time ever that the debt limit had been used as a hostage for another set of goals. You had a large number of Republicans who ran by pledging they would never vote to increase the debt limit. This was not something that just emerged and then it was a question of who would navigate through it. …

The problem that Romney would face [if elected] would be particularly acute, paradoxically, if the Republicans win the House and the Senate. Because I can tell you from conversations with Republicans in both chambers, but especially in the House, and this was Paul Ryan’s plan long before he became the running mate. They’ve got a plan that if they capture everything their going to put together in January the ‘Mother’ of all reconciliation bills, avoid a filibuster, and it’s going to provide the vision of Ryan’s budget, which is far more conservative than what Mitt Romney suggested in that first debate. They are going to try to pass it through on their votes alone and send it to him and, in effect, dare him to veto it. His ability to withstand what would be very conservative policies coming out of a Republican House and Senate would be very limited.”–Norm Ornstein

Listen to the whole interview on KCRW’s To The Point (Oct. 8, 2012).

Weak Republicans = Weak Obama?

Kai Wright
ColorLines editor Kai Wright always provides incisive commentary. As the Republican candidates move from New Hampshire to South Carolina and on to Florida, I’m wondering how to push Obama to change abusive economic policies and practices that “crush my people, and grind the face of the poor into the dust” (Isaiah 3:15). Wright says that the collapse of the Republican party may allow Obama to maintain a politics of the mushy middle, rather than the progressive reforms he campaigned on. Here’s an excerpt from Wright’s recent column:

” … [O]nce we set the horse race of partisan politics aside, the Republican collapse begins to look less gratifying. Here’s the thing: Elections are for incumbents all about being held accountable for their choices. And what the Obama White House needs more than anything at this juncture is a jolt of accountability from the social justice reformers who believed in the change it sold four years ago.

Democratic Party leaders have for generations distracted their own base with the horrific threat of their Republican challengers. From LGBT people to unionized workers, the message is too often the same: Never mind our failings, look at the scary other guys. That’s long been a winning strategy for uniting the Democratic coalition. But the Obama team has wielded it against progressive critics with particular vengeance. Indeed, the tea party has in some ways been as helpful a distraction for the White House as it has been an obstructionist tool for the Republicans.

In this light, the Republican field that’s emerging from Iowa and New Hampshire is tailor made for the Obama administration to avoid a much needed reality check with its own reformists supporters. The president will be able to run simultaneously against the lunacy of a Rick Santorum—or, whoever wins the so-called “conservative primary”—and the weakness of Mitt Romney. The latter poses little threat with voters and the former keeps picky progressives off his tail. As long as he faces no meaningful challenge, the president has little reason to vow a course correction from the choices of his first term. …–Excerpt from Why The GOP’s Spectacular Collapse Isn’t Good For Social Justice by Kai Wright

Remember Way Back When the Republicans Supported “Death Panels”?

bio-amy-sullivan

Since this craziness is all over the news, I thought I’d publish Amy Sullivan’s nice little piece of research here. Amy’s life-long dream has been to be a political pundit — and she’s GOOD at it! Check out her original.

Oh, Those Death Panels
by Amy Sullivan

You would think that if Republicans wanted to totally mischaracterize a health care provision and demagogue it like nobody’s business, they would at least pick something that the vast majority of them hadn’t already voted for just a few years earlier. Because that’s not just shameless, it’s stupid.

Yes, that’s right. Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!!

Let’s go to the bill text, shall we? “The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary’s need for pain and symptom management, including the individual’s need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning.” The only difference between the 2003 provision and the infamous Section 1233 that threatens the very future and moral sanctity of the Republic is that the first applied only to terminally ill patients. Section 1233 would expand funding so that people could voluntarily receive counseling before they become terminally ill.

So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now–or they’re lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley (“Yea,” 2003)?