The Incredible Shrinking Presidency
After it was reported that President Obama said in Africa, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker," I Tweeted:
"Hell, he didn't even scramble jets to save a U.S. Ambassador."
That was re-Tweeted 204 times as of 9 o'clock last night which counts as "Trending" at Mullings Central.
If you're not already, you should follow me on Twitter at @richgalen.
END Rare Opening SIDEBAR
The President is in Africa on a perfectly meaningless goodwill trip to somewhere and somewhere else while back here in Our Nation's Capital it was one of the most important weeks in the history of the Republic.
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling on a case involving the Voting Rights Act - that part of the act that required nine states to get U.S. Justice Department permission to make just about any changes to voting.
The sanction was the result of decades of mistreatment of minority - especially Black - voters at the hands of the White majorities so the Congress decided they couldn't be trusted to run their own elections.
Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts didn't forbid any Federal interference in state voting laws but said, as quoted by the NY Times:
"Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions."
So, look for Democrats in the House and Senate to race to their respective floors to introduce new legislation with an eye toward getting back as close to the line of requiring DoJ "pre-clearance" as it was before this ruling.
Missing from the discussion: Barack Obama
Then, the next day, the very same Supreme Court struck down the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) which limited Federal spousal benefits to a marriage between a man and a woman.
In that case, as we read in the Washington Post,
"The court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive."
The Court did not directly rule on the other gay marriage case - whether the ban on gay marriages in California were Constitutionally permitted.
It decided that the group that had sued to outlaw such marriages didn't have the "standing" to bring such a case and let the lower court ruling that permits same-sex marriages in California as is.
Thus, gay couples - within a couple of weeks - will have the right to marry. And, if one of them happens to work for the Federal government, receive the same benefits as any other married couple.
Tea Party Republicans and their allies on the religious right were quick to declare the end of civilization as it has evolved over the millennia and were busily preparing language to make marriage between one man and one woman a proposed Constitutional Amendment.
Missing from the discussion: Barack Obama
The third piece of history that was made was the vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday approving the Senate's version of immigration reform by a vote of 62-38. That was not quite the 70 votes supporters had hoped for, but it was well over the simple majority needed for final passage.
The immigration bill was hashed out by what has become known as the "Gang of Eight" Four Senators from each party and, with the addition of a last minute amendment to significantly strengthen border security by two additional Senators, made passage a foregone conclusion.
House Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner immediately said the Senate version was "dead on arrival" (a construct which, if used by anyone in any official position, should land them in stocks being pelted with fruits and vegetables by the local peasantry like Quasimodo in front of Notre Dame Cathedral).
Missing from the discussion: Barack Obama.
In other developments the Inspector General of the Treasury Department - under which the Internal Revenue Service operates - wrote a letter that indicated earlier claims that the IRS was targeting groups with the word "progressive" (or some variant) in their names at the same rate as they were focusing on conservative groups was … bosh.
He wrote, according to the Huffington Post, that "His investigators found that of 298 applicants for tax-exempt status that the IRS flagged for possible political involvement between 2010 and 2012, six had "progress" or "progressive" in their names."
That is about 2 percent.
Embarrassed at having been misled by the Obama Administration: Liberal Pundits
Outraged by the Administration's cheap attempt to deflect the IRS story: Conservative Pundits
Missing from the conversation: Barack Obama.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Voting Rights and gay marriage stories as well as to the Huffington Post's coverage of the Treasury's Inspector General.
Also a good Mullfoto of the scene in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday.