Gun lovers

Below, a list of the Twitter handles of all of the senators who voted no on ending the gun amendments, excluding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who voted against the amendment on procedural grounds. Find their information and let them know how you feel. For a full roll call, click here.

Primary their asses


— “In the end, however, moderates and conservatives in the upper chamber said they simply couldn’t deal with a flurry of progressive issues at once – from gay marriage to immigration to guns. The other three Democratic ‘no’ votes – Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska – were never really in play, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO. One senator told a White House official that it was ‘Guns, gays and immigration – it’s too much. I can be with you on one or two of them, but not all three.'” 


I didn’t say it when I wrote this (because I didn’t want to make people too paranoid), but this is the kind of crap I was talking about — both on a global and a personal level. Shit blowing up: BOOM! Boston. BOOM! West, TX. Astrologers have been talking about this for years as strong potential for another 9/11-type event. (Also this week: two 7+ earthquakes – so far.) If it interests you, the trigger seems to have been Pluto stationing on Sunday.

And these are slow moving planets, so it should last for a while. Drive carefully, bite your tongue, watch your temper. Shit’s gonna happen.

Congress and Obama undo ‘insider trading’ law

“If there was ever any doubt, this latest gutting of transparency and oversight of Washington Insiders by President Barack Obama has surely secured his legacy as just another politician that betrayed the public’s trust.”

– Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Evading any fanfare, President Obama followed Congress’s lead and quietly signed legislation Monday that gutted provisions of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK) which provided important oversight of government employees, including the President and members of Congress, by requiring disclosure of their finances to the public.

In a “highly visible” signing ceremony, President Obama affixed his signature to the STOCK Act on April 4, 2012. A year later, the process was reversed, without the fanfare. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)”Without the provisions, the STOCK act is made toothless,” writes Dan Auble with the Center for Responsive Politics. “Insider trading by members of Congress and federal employees is still prohibited, but the ability of watchdog groups to verify that Congress is following its own rules is severely limited because these records could still be filed on paper—an unacceptably outdated practice that limits the public’s access. This is not true disclosure.”

Signed in to law last April, Obama originally hailed the measure as a step towards eliminating the “deficit of trust” between US citizens and their government.

The STOCK Act outlawed trading on nonpublic information by members of Congress, the executive branch and their staffs, and required already public financial disclosures be made available on an online database.

On Monday, the White House issued a one sentence statement announcing the changes to the law.

The President’s approval followed votes last week by both the Senate and House who “near silently” and “by unanimous consent” passed bill S.716, which gutted the law of the unfavorable disclosure requirements.

“Congress really wants to get something done, it can move blindingly fast,” writes NPR’sTamara Keith.
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The children of Sandy Hook were filibustered to death

James Fallows. Go read the rest:

I am in Internet range for only a few minutes, so let me just type this right out:

  1. Today a provision that would increase background checks for gun purchases was blocked in the Senate, even though consideration of the bill was supported by 54 senators representing states that make up (at quick estimate) at least 60 percent of the American population.
  2. The bill did not fail to “pass” the Senate, which according to Constitutional provisions and accepted practice for more than two centuries requires a simple majority, 51 votes. Even 50 votes should do it, since the vice president is constitutionally empowered to cast the tie-breaking and deciding vote, and Joe Biden would have voted yes.
  3. It failed because a 54-vote majority was not enough to break the threat of a filibuster, which (with some twists of labeling) was the real story of what happened with this bill. Breaking the filibuster would have required 60 votes.
  4. Since the Democrats regained majority control of the Senate six years ago, the Republicans under Mitch McConnell have applied filibuster threats (under a variety of names) at a frequency not seen before in American history. Filibusters used to be exceptional. Now they are used as blocking tactics for nearly any significant legislation or nomination. The goal of this strategy, which maximizes minority blocking power in a way not foreseen in the Constitution, has been to make the 60-vote requirement seem routine.
  5. As part of the “making it routine” strategy, the minority relying on this strategy keeps repeating that it takes 60 votes to “pass” a bill — and this Orwellian language-strategy comes one step closer to fulfillment each time press reports present 60 votes as the norm for passing a law.

Yes, this is the 20 millionth time I have made this point.

‘No risk’ of explosion

I am so very tired of seeing the horrific results of three decades of deficit hawkery, which weakened the regulatory infrastructure of this country and results in completely preventable and massive tragedies like this. Let’s start with the lax zoning requirements, which allowed such a high-risk enterprise smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

And the Chemical Safety Board, which was deployed to the West TX site last night, is chronically understaffed and inadequate because… you guessed it, it’s underfunded by a Big Oil-friendly Congress! They get $10.5 million to regulate an industry with 170 major companies making 70,000 different chemicals, totaling $750 billion revenue. Thanks, Congress!

Then there’s OSHA, which is supposed to protect workers in the workplace but is really more of a fig leaf. Do you know how many OSHA inspectors we have for the entire country — more accurately, how many we don’t? Six fertilizer plants were inspected by OSHA in the past five years. West Fertilizer was not one of them. (When West Texas was cited for OSHA violations in 1985, their fine was $30.)

Experts say for a country the size of the United States, we should have 12,000 OSHA inspectors. We have 2,220. And the fines are laughable.

So remember: This tragedy was completely preventable. We just didn’t bother. Because Grover Norquist fights to keep that money out of government agencies and in the pockets of the 1%. Freedom!

The West Fertilizer Co factory of Texas, which exploded late Wednesday, was fined in 2006 by the Environmental Protection Agency for not having a risk-management plan. The same year the plant reported it posed ‘no risk’ of fire.

Complaints were made in June 2006 regarding a strong smell of ammonia emanating from the plant, according to reports publicized by The Dallas Morning News (DMN).

The concerns prompted Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to investigate. The plant was fined later in August by the EPA, which imposed a fine of $2,300 for failure to have a risk-management plan that was in line with federal standards.

Such federal regulations are in place to ensure the prevention of chemical accidents through safeguards.

A later report filed by the plant itself with EPA stated “no” under fire or explosive risks, saying that the, “worst possible scenario … would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would injure no one.”

Ah, yes — self reporting! The process pushed by Ronald Reagan to replace federal inspectors, who claimed companies would be honest because after all, who would want the liability costs of lying? Just about everyone, as it turns out.

They went on to say that their ‘second-worst’ scenario would be a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, which would also not result in any injuries.
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