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“Remember The Naysayers”: Senate Passes Expanded Violence Against Women Act

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday afternoon to pass legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with expanded protections for gays, undocumented immigrants and Native American women who suffer from domestic abuse.

The final vote was 78-22. All Democrats and 23 Republicans voted for final passage. The bill now heads to the House, where GOP leaders are resisting some of its provisions.

“Today the Senate passed a strong bipartisan bill to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act,” President Obama said in a statement. “The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us. I want to thank Senator Leahy and his colleagues from both sides of the aisle for the leadership they have shown on behalf of victims of abuse. It’s now time for the House to follow suit and send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.”

The 22 Republicans who voted against it were Sens. John Barrasso (WY), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (AR), Tom Coburn (OK), John Cornyn (TX), Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Enzi (WY), Lindsey Graham (SC), Chuck Grassley (IA), Orrin Hatch (UT), James Inhofe (OK), Mike Johanns (NE), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (UT), Mitch McConnell (KY), Rand Paul (KY), Jim Risch (ID), Pat Roberts (KS), Marco Rubio (FL), Tim Scott (SC), Jeff Sessions (AL) and John Thune (SD).

The Senate rejected Republican-sponsored amendments to replace the bill with a scaled-back reauthorization and to eliminate a provision permitting Native American courts to try non-Native Americans accused of domestic abuse on tribal lands, which many Republicans say is unconstitutional because it would limit recourse for the accused in U.S. courts.

“Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences,” Rubio said in a statement, voicing concerns with the makeup of funding for some of the VAWA programs. “Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.”

The legislation also adopted an amendment by VAWA’s chief sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), providing law enforcement more tools to combat human trafficking (by a 93-5 vote), and another by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to make sure child victims of sex trafficking are eligible to receive grant assistance (by a 100-0 vote).

VAWA expired in 2011 but has continued to receive funding through the appropriations process. Last authorized in 2005, law enforcement believes it needs to be streamlined. Last year the reauthroization fell prey to House Republican resistance to the expanded provisions. The broad, bipartisan passage of the reauthorization through the Senate now increases the pressure on House GOP leaders to act.

Republican leaders are again facing pressure from within their ranks to act. A letter sent Monday night and signed by 17 House GOP lawmakers nudges Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Senate’s direction, twice calling for a bipartisan bill. The House GOP’s version last year passed on a party-line vote.

“Now is the time to seek bipartisan compromise on the reauthorization of these programs. … We believe a bipartisan plan to reauthorize VAWA is more important than ever,” wrote Republican Reps. Rodney Davis (IL), Charlie Dent (PA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Jim Gerlach (PA), Chris Gibson (NY), Michael Grimm (NY), Richard Hanna (NY), David Joyce (OH), Leonard Lance (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA), Shelly Moore-Capito (WV), Tom Reed (NY), Dave Reichert (WA), Jon Runyan (NJ) and Lee Terry (NE).

After the vote, Leahy and other key Democratic senators called on House Republicans to move speedily on the legislation. They said they’re proud to have held their ground on LGBT, immigrant and tribal provisions, saying all victims should be treated equally.

Although House Republicans dislike provisions covering LGBT and illegal-immigrant victims, their primary area of discomfort with the Senate bill is the tribal lands provision. Senior House GOP aides declined to comment, but top Republicans, led by Cantor, are leaning toward a middle path that provides legal recourse for those charged with domestic abuse in Native American courts by allowing them to appeal to U.S. courts.

Leahy declined to speculate on whether that compromise would be acceptable, saying the House should pass its legislation and the two chambers can then resolve their differences.

“[J]ust like last Congress, we all know it will take leadership from Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to move this bill forward,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told TPM. “The fate of VAWA still lies squarely on their shoulders and too many women have been left vulnerable while they have played politics.”

 

By: Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo, February 12, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Domestic Violence | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Lesson Learned”: Obama’s Presidential Road Trip Annoys The GOP

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) complained on Fox News yesterday, “All [President Obama] does is go out and make speeches” instead of negotiating with lawmakers like him. Around the same time, on “Meet the Press,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy argued that the president should “stop the speeches” and “stop the politicization.” Also on “Meet the Press,” Republican pundit Michael Gerson complained about the “outside game [Obama’s] been pursuing,” in which the president hits the road, “beating up on the Congress.”

It’s not exactly subtle: Obama’s GOP detractors aren’t happy about the president taking his message directly to the public though outside-the-beltway events.

Then again, it appears the White House doesn’t much care. When Obama delivered a big speech on preventing gun violence, he did so not in Washington, but in Minnesota. When he spoke on immigration reform, the president skipped D.C. and traveled to Las Vegas.

The president will deliver the State of the Union from Capitol Hill tomorrow, but over the weekend, the White House announced the president’s plans for the rest of the week.

After Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address, the President will travel to three different communities to discuss proposals, unveiled in the speech, that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there. On Wednesday, February 13th, the President will travel to the Asheville, North Carolina area for an event. On Thursday, February 14th, the President will travel to the Atlanta, Georgia area for an event. On Friday, February 15th, the President will travel to the Chicago area for an event.

To be sure, this is hardly the first time a president has taken a post-SOTU road trip, but these excursions come against an interesting backdrop.

For one thing, we have Republicans urging Obama not to take his message directly to the public, which should probably be a sign that the president is doing the smart thing, since his detractors probably don’t have his best interests at heart.

For another, keep in mind, the president played the game for much of his first term the way the GOP wanted: staying in D.C., huddled in closed-door meetings trying to find new ways to meet Republican demands. It appears Obama has learned a lesson he intends to apply to his second term: the old way wasn’t constructive, didn’t pay dividends, and failed to make GOP policymakers more cooperative and/or interested in governing.

Whether the new strategy works or not remains to be seen, but it’s a deliberate shift — Obama hopes to change the political environment, and create new public pressures, by making his pitch outside Washington, whether Republican lawmakers and pundits like it or not.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 11, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“The New GOP”: More Of The Same, This Time In Spanish

Congressional Republicans are boldly forging a new anti-Obama path that sounds depressingly familiar to the anti-Obama path they’ve been on since retaking the House in 2010. But now it’ll be done in Spanish.

In the Senate, the Republicans’ minority status could force them to play defense in an effort to respond to an agenda that is controlled by the Democrats and usually an extension of policies being pushed by the White House. But in the House, where Republicans run the floor, the party plans to shift gears, spearheading a series of bills designed less to land on the president’s desk than to communicate to Americans what the GOP stands for.Given the outcome of the 2012 elections and the increasing importance of Hispanic and younger voters, it also is likely no accident that Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky selected the 41-year-old Rubio, an ethnic Cuban, to deliver this particular Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union address. Rubio is not just a rising GOP star and potential 2016 presidential contender, but a key Republican leader on immigration changes.

“Marco Rubio is the right guy to talk to Hispanics about work ethic and economic growth as a counter to deficit spending,” said a Republican lobbyist with relationships on Capitol Hill. The implicit suggestion of many Republican operatives is that Rubio is an important GOP messenger to spotlight in the aftermath of the party nominating a 2012 presidential candidate who garnered a mere 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.

This new “voter-focused” agenda was previewed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his big, rebranding speech last week. That was the speech presented the same old Republican ideas on the budget, on education, and on health care, but with a smile. And now, apparently, in Spanish.

So to recap: the GOP still hates Obama; they aren’t changing any of their policies; they’re still going to focus on legislation that will never go anywhere; and they think having Rubio deliver this message will solve all their problems with Hispanic voters.

 

BY: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, February 12, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Dangerous Demagogic Figure”: Ted Nugent Is An Eloquent Spokesman, For Democrats

Yesterday rocker Ted Nugent announced that he would attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech — and then hold a press conference afterward to comment.

Nugent will attend at the invitation of Republican Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas. But the message he sends is toxic for the Republican Party.

Ted Nugent is a board member of the NRA — and an avid spokesman for the right of every American to buy, carry and use military style weapons. Graciously, he will arrive at the capitol without military style weapons. He told the New York Times he would “go in at least 20 pounds lighter than I normally walk,” … “I will be going in sans the hardware store on my belt. I live a well-armed life, and I’ve got to demilitarize before I go.”

He will be attending the State of the Union speech along with 100 relatives of the victims of gun violence invited mainly by Democratic Members of Congress and sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Among them will be former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was almost killed in a gun attack in Tucson.

The contrast could not be starker. During last year’s Presidential campaign Nugent said:

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

In 2007 he said:

“I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up,” he said, adding “Obama, he’s a piece of s**t. I told him to suck on my machine gun.”

As for his view of women:

“Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

“What’s a feminist anyways? A fat pig who doesn’t get it often enough?”

In a 1994 Rolling Stone interview Nugent said:

“You probably can’t use the term `toxic c**t’ in your magazine, but that’s what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro.”

On Asians and “foreigners” in general:

“…Yeah they love me (in Japan) — they’re still assholes. These people they don’t know what life is. I don’t have a following, they need me; they don’t like me they need me… Foreigners are a******s; foreigners are scum; I don’t like ’em; I don’t want ’em in this country; I don’t want ’em selling me doughnuts; I don’t want ’em pumping my gas; I don’t want ’em downwind of my life-OK? So anyhow, and I’m dead serious…”

And then there are his comments on race:

“My being there (South Africa) isn’t going to affect any political structure. Besides, apartheid isn’t that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.”

“I use the word n****r a lot because I hang around with a lot of n****rs, and they use the word n****r, and I tend to use words that communicate,” he said.

Let’s just say that Ted Nugent is not the face of the new Republican Party “brand” that many Republican leaders have been trying so desperately to project since their November election disaster.

Nugent presents the same problem for Republicans as Todd Aiken did when he explained how the female body shut down pregnancies that resulted from “legitimate rape.” Even though many Republicans don’t entirely agree with people like Nugent and Aiken, their comments are toxic for the Republican Party brand. They drive away women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, young people.

And when it comes to the issue of gun violence, who would you rather have as your spokesperson, Gabby Giffords or Ted Nugent? Which of these two do you think would poll more favorably among the vast majority of Americans?

Nugent’s mouth is like a machine gun that riddles his own troops with friendly fire. The problem is that it is very hard for the Republican establishment to stop people like Nugent and Aiken. In fact tonight, we will be treated not only to the traditional Republican response to the State of the Union address — but two additional Republican responses: one by Tea Party Senator Rand Paul and the other by ultra-extremist Ted Nugent.

From Nugent’s point of view, it makes perfect sense to grandstand at the State of the Union and to go around making violent, outrageous statements. It drives his popularity and visibility among the narrow strata of the population that share his point of view — his fan base.

Recently the NRA posted a video that criticized the President for having tougher security for his children than ordinary people have for their kid’s schools. Most people thought the commercial was over the top — that bringing the President’s children into the political debate was out-of-bounds — and was ineffective in moving persuadable voters.

But that wasn’t the point. The video was not intended to persuade. It was intended as red meat for NRA supporters. It was intended to recruit members, raise money and mobilize the NRA’s base.

And that is the Republican problem — with the gun violence issue and so many others.

Tea Party activists have every incentive to stoke the anger of their base, make outrageous statements, and mount primary challenges that drive the Party out of the country’s mainstream — even though those actions simultaneously weaken the attractiveness of Republican Party candidates in general elections. And worse yet for the Republicans, those actions destroy their chances of attracting young people who will determine the Party’s future.

In the near term, people like Ted Nugent are dangerous to a Democratic society. Ted Nugent is a hateful, demagogic figure that builds his own career by belittling and attacking others. In hard times, his scapegoating and racism can find a following.

But every time Nugent opens his mouth he also helps to create lifelong Progressives who would never dream of being associated with the hatred he espouses — or with the political party that countenances him.

The Republican establishment funded and fueled the revival of the Tea Party after Barack Obama was elected. They did everything they could to legitimate otherwise fringe points of view. Now they are paying the price.

What is it they say about riding the tiger? The odds are good that you might be consumed by it. Or in the case of Nugent perhaps the better analogy would be a mountain lion. Nugent was once quoted saying:

“Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians — except for the occasional mountain lion steak.”

 

By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, February 12, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Violence Problem”: Accepting Of Violent Language And Violent Behavior

As The Plum Line‘s Greg Sargent rightly points out, the Republican Party has much bigger problems than inviting a washed-up whackjob like Ted Nugent to the State of the Union. Sargent says the “problem is the perpetual winking and nodding to The Crazy.”

I would take that further and say not only does the Republican leadership condone The Crazy, but also the violent tendencies associated with this type of dangerous ideology. Whether it is refusing to back the Violence Against Women Act, fighting against every single sensible gun law, promoting military force over diplomacy or failing to condemn violent rhetoric toward President Obama — the GOP is gaining a reputation of a political party that cynically accepts violent language and behavior.

Here are a few examples of why the GOP has a violence problem.

Inviting Ted Nugent To The State Of The Union

In an appallingly insensitive move, gun-crazy congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) invited right-wing rocker Ted Nugent to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, where he will be joined by more than 20 gun violence survivors to watch the president talk about his gun safety proposals.

Nugent was recently investigated by the Secret Service for threatening remarks he made towards President Obama. Nugent has referred to the president as “an evil, dangerous man who hates America and hates freedom,” going on to warn that “we need to fix this as soon as possible.” But it was his ominous warning that he “will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if Obama won re-election that got the attention of the men in black.

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence put out a press release Tuesday condemning the Nugent invitation. ”I can’t think of any public figure less appropriate for such an occasion,” said executive director Josh Horwitz. But where are the condemnations from the Republican leadership?

Blocking The Violence Against Women Act

House Republicans are holding up reauthorization of the traditionally bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because there are provisions to protect immigrants, the LGBT community, and Native Americans. Even some House GOPers sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), urging them to immediately reauthorize VAWA. Maybe someone checked the last election results that showed a majority of women voted for Barack Obama and Democrats. In fact, the 20-point gender gap was the largest in history and marked the sixth straight presidential election in which the majority of women voted Democratic.

In the video (http://youtu.be/AqoGTD1Mlw4), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) slams Senate Republicans for attempting to remove tribal provisions from the Violence Against Women Act.

Attacking Hagel For Not Being Hawkish Enough

Many Republicans prefer military action over diplomacy and are suspicious of people like Vietnam veteran and Obama defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel for saying military force should always be a last resort after exhausting every other method.

The New York Times quoted former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as saying that “this is the neocons’ worst nightmare because you’ve got a combat soldier, successful businessman and senator who actually thinks there may be other ways to resolve some questions other than force.”

Failing to Condemn Violent Rhetoric From The Right

The Republican leadership has failed to condemn the militant tendencies of the Tea Party movement and other right-wing sources. Examples include Sarah Palin’s electoral map that targeted Democratic districts (including that of Gabrielle Giffords) with crosshairs, and Florida congresswoman and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Republican opponent shooting at a human-shaped target with Wasserman Schultz’s initials on it.

But perhaps the most outrageous act was directed against Ms. Giffords in June 2010, only six months before her life was changed forever by gun violence during the Tucson mass shooting and three months after her campaign office was vandalized following the Palin crosshairs incident. Giffords’ Republican opponent Jesse Kelly held a gun-themed fundraiser at which supporters could shoot an M-16 rifle with Kelly. This is how the event was promoted: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

Well, maybe that isn’t even the most despicable example. In 2009, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) told Politico that “we hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.”

 

By: Josh Marks, The National Memo, February 12, 2013

February 13, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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