Cruz calls other Republicans ‘squishes’ on gun votes, but there’s a lot missing from his story

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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Sen. Ted Cruz showed up at a tea party rally last Friday and offered an … interesting take on the Senate push for new gun regulations, in the process taking some shots at fellow Republican senators as “squishes.” To hear Cruz tell it, an improved background check law was a sure thing to pass, driven by Washington politicians against the will of the people until, because of a last-minute grassroots uprising sparked by him, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, “Every single proposal in President Obama’s gun control agenda that would have undermined the second amendment, every single one of them was voted down on the floor of the Senate,” a statement he punctuated with a triumphant snap.

Cruz made no mention of the 86 percent support among voters for background checks or the barrage of polls since the vote showing senators who voted against the proposals having lost significant public support. He talked a lot about his role in organizing a filibuster, then suddenly shifted to simply saying that gun legislation was “voted down on the floor of the Senate,” as if a majority of senators had opposed it. Reality and Calgary Cruz, they have their differences. And about those squishes. According to Cruz, at Republican lunches, other senators were “standing up and looking at Rand and Mike and me and yelling at us at the top of their lungs, I mean really upset,” because they were upset that their constituents were holding them accountable.

But here was their argument. They said, ‘Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The Dems were the bad guys, the Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.’

It’s like, ‘Well, there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes.’

Having seen the difference between the reality of the public battle over background checks and Cruz’s telling of it, it may not shock you to learn that other accounts of those closed-door meetings differ from his.

The New York Times reported on one blow-up when Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, angrily confronted the three senators about advertisements running in her home state accusing her of supporting a gun grab. Those ads were financed by an obscure gun rights group with close ties to Mr. Paul. According to several aides familiar with the confrontation, Mr. Cruz defensively jumped in to say he had nothing to do with the ads. Mr. Paul, in contrast, stormed out, saying he felt subject to an inquisition.

Yelling about a filibuster threat leading to spontaneous grassroots support and yelling about being targeted by misleading ads: They’re two different things. Not to mention the difference between Cruz’s bravado about his response and the report that his actual response was to deny involvement. But hey, this was Cruz taking his ego out for a performance in front of a tea party audience. Can we really expect anything more?

Chemical explosions … coming from an industry near you?

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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Fire before the explosion at West Fertilizer Co. in Texas.

The chemical industry—including fertilizer plants—really doesn’t want to improve security standards at potentially dangerous facilities. After the Bush administration blocked stronger regulation of chemical plants in the wake of 9/11, and Senate Republicans backed a bill introduced by then-Sen. Obama in 2006, there was yet another effort to make the industry safer in 2009. Guess what happened next:

Mining companies, refiners, paint makers, explosive fabricators and fertilizer plants combined in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign to stop the measure. Two of the capital’s most potent lobbying forces—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Farm Bureau—labeled it a “key vote” of the year. The bill, called a highwater mark of chemical- safety efforts by one supporter, passed the House of Representatives, only to die without a vote in the Senate.

So when Republicans say “9/11 changed everything,” there’s an asterisk reading “except our unwillingness to regulate business.” This isn’t a trivial issue we’re talking about, either, as we saw in West, Texas. Chemical plants can pose significant dangers to their workers and surrounding communities—and I do mean significant:

The U.S. has about 90 facilities—including chemical factories, refineries and water-treatment plants—that in a worst-case scenario would pose risks to more than 1 million people, according to a Congressional Research Service report in November that analyzed reports submitted by companies to the EPA.

About 400 other facilities could pose risks to more than 100,000 people, according to the report. The calculations were based on a “worst-case release scenario” such as an explosion or leak, and the proximity of the plant to population centers.

Those are the worst-case scenarios. They may not be very likely. But the West explosion shows that a not-worst-case scenario can be pretty damn bad. Right now, “federal officials are prohibited by law from requiring companies to take specific security measures.” And no fatal, town-flattening explosion is going to make the Chamber of Commerce stop fighting tooth and nail to keep things that way.

FDA: Morning-after pill to move over-the-counter

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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This undated image made available by Teva Women's Health shows the packaging for their Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) tablet, one of the brands known as the "morning-after pill." The Plan B morning-after pill is moving over-the-counter, a decision announced by the Food and Drug Administration just days before a court-imposed deadline. On April 30, 2013, the FDA lowered to 15 the age at which girls and women can buy the emergency contraceptive without a prescription — and said it no longer has to be kept behind pharmacy counters. Instead, the pill can sit on drugstore shelves just like condoms, but that buyers would have to prove their age at the cash register. (AP Photo/Teva Women's Health)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Plan B morning-after pill is moving over-the-counter, a decision announced by the Food and Drug Administration just days before a court-imposed deadline.

Obama hints at potential military action in Syria

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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President Barack Obama answers questions during his new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The president strongly suggested Tuesday he'd consider military action against Syria if it can be confirmed that President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons in the two-year-old civil war. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama signaled Tuesday he would consider U.S. military action against Syria if "hard, effective evidence" is found to bolster intelligence that chemical weapons have been used in the 2-year-old civil war. But Obama made clear he would prefer to have the backing of the international community before escalating American involvement.

Obama offers praise, complaints for Republicans

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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President Barack Obama answering questions during his new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The president brushed aside the suggestion he's lost political clout, saying "rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama needled a GOP senator Tuesday, then praised Republicans working to solve the immigration riddle. He pledged to re-engage with Congress to close the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, then decried the intractability of Congress. He cast Republicans as potential allies, then criticized their obstruction.

Officials say threatened FAA towers to remain open

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has assured lawmakers the Obama administration will prevent the closure of 149 small airport towers as well as end furloughs of air traffic controllers nationwide as a result of legislation passed by Congress, according to officials involved in negotiations on the bill.

Advocates criticize Senate immigration bill

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a town hall meeting, Monday, April 29, 2013, in Goodyear, Ariz. McCain was speaking and taking questions on immigration and sequestration. (AP Photo/Matt York)WASHINGTON (AP) — A sweeping immigration bill in the Senate ran into criticism Tuesday from advocates who complained it puts up undue barriers to citizenship for millions here illegally.

Poll: Many Americans uninformed about health care overhaul, some don’t know it’s law

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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As the Obama administration girds for “glitches and bumps” along the path to full implementation of the health-care law, a new poll indicates many Americans are still unclear about the details of the new law and, in some cases, unaware it’s actually law of the land.A whopping 42 percent of Americans do not know that the Affordable Care Act is, in fact, law. Included in that 42 percent — 12 percen…

    

Newtown victim’s daughter presses Ayotte on gun vote

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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McDonnell denies wrongdoing as ethics dominates governor’s race

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-04-2013-05-2008

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Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell denied any wrongdoing in his business dealings with a family friend and donor, saying Tuesday that an FBI probe into that relationship does not impair his ability to serve as governor.McDonnell largely dismissed a Washington Post report on Monday, which said that federal investigators were exploring the relationship between the McDonnell family and a major do…