Friday, February 15, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
On Wednesday Senate Republicans forced the Senate to a 60-vote threshold on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel. In order to move forward to a vote Democrats will have to find 60 senators to vote yes on cloture. If they do, the Democrats with a 55-45 majority are expected to confirm Hagel on a near party-line vote.
Wednesday was also a big day for Republican opponents of Hagel in two ways.
First, moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who some news organizations had reported would vote for Hagel, came out to say she would oppose his confirmation, although not block a “final” vote. (It’s unclear whether she would nevertheless support a temporary delay so her GOP colleagues Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham can garner information they requested from the White House on Benghazi.)
Second, McCain and others remained up in the air, maintaining the very real possibility that Friday’s vote might not lead to a quick Hagel confirmation. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he would support a filibuster if need be. (“If they’re not going to give us the information, the only way to get the information is to threaten to hold them to a higher standard of 60 votes.”)
Keep in mind, this piece was written by Jennifer "Billy" Rubin of the WaPo, which makes it about as factual as unicorn-riding talking pigs.
I mean, seriously, you can almost hear her gloating over a small procedural victory in the right wing attempts to smear an honorable and qualified candidate for the post in order to go on a witch hunt over details on a matter that's pretty much been put to bed, at least factually.
Distilling the facts out of her "writing," we find that a) the Republicans scored a cheap political victory that endangers our national security, b) a moderate Susan Collins might not agree with this pathetic stunt anyway, and c) even Senator McCain, who stands to benefit from the delay, opposes the idea of filibustering a Presidential appointee to such an important post!
Boy, I tell you what: Chuck Hagel must have made some serious enemies in the Republican camp for them to twist their panties in a knot this tight. Or maybe not. Let me explain.
The Democrats will have enough votes for cloture, to be sure, and if I'm Harry Reid, once that's taken care of, I don't even give the Teabaggers an ounce of recognition. I'd call for majority vote indicating unanimous consent, then throw it in the faces of every one of those niggling bastards running in 2014 and 2016.
The appointment of Chuck Hagel means just one thing, in my opinion: he has the credibility to line-item every single program in the military and either greenlight it or get rid of it. The establishment Republicans AND the Teabaggers concerned about district and statewide pork know this.
He brings street cred to the vital budget slashing that has to take place if we're truly serious about deficit reduction and not using it as a band-aid for slashing important social programs which are even more vital to the national interest than doubly redundant bombers and warships.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he will resign Feb. 28, ending eight years as head of the world's Catholics because the 85-year-old pontiff is too infirm to carry on. He is the first pope to resign in 600 years.
The pope made the announcement in Latin during a meeting of cardinals in Rome.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering."
This is a rather curious instance, to be sure, if the "600 years since it last happened" wasn't enough to arouse your suspicions. The Office of the Pontiff is the highest one that a Catholic can aspire to. This is even bigger than resigning as President of the United States, because the PoTUS can go into private industry and exploit his Rolodex.
Pope John XVIII, for instance, became a monk. The last Pope to resign, Gregory XII, did so as a political move. There were three claimants to the office, so in order to end the "Western Schism," Gregory offered up his mitre, ironically as an inducement to Benedict XIII, the so-called Antipope of Avignon.
So are there any political issues at stake here? Well, there is the small matter of sexual abuse within the church itself. As Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict was in charge of investigating and prosecuting cases, but his record is not without its inconsistencies. It is conceivable that there's is pretty damning evidence of complicity, as a best case scenario, in cases of child abuse, but it remains speculation.
In fairness to Benedict, however, we should note that prior to his election as Pope, he had submitted his resignation for health reasons, but stayed on when his predecessor, John Paul II, asked him to stay on. Benedict has suffered from some cardiovascular issues, notably a stroke and a heart condition.
It may be as simple as seeing the writing on the wall and deciding to give his church the chance to prepare for an orderly succession.
Still...it's pretty damned curious.