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Monday’s panel on political discourse also touched on gun control. The general consensus seemed to be that President Barack Obama will not push for tougher gun control in the wake of the Arizona shooting. That leaves it to the Senate to push the debate, since the House majority may not be keen on gun control, either.

The Rural Blog has more on why President Obama is unlikely to champion tighter gun restrictions: white rural males who haven’t been to college.


President Barack Obama and Senator-elect Rand Paul talked on the phone this week. Paul isn’t likely to be any more cooperative with the President than outgoing Senator Jim Bunning, but Paul says he has promised to engage in polite, civil discourse.

The AP story says Obama initiated the call, but it appears that the White House isn’t saying much about it. Such calls are regular occurrences, so it makes sense that the conversation makes more news in Kentucky than in Washington. Still, it would be interesting to know what both sides thought about the call.

Programming note:

The Edit is on vacation Thursday and Friday. Regular posts will resume Monday, unless breaking news occurs.

Senator Jim Bunning used to hold weekly conference calls with the press. Rick Howlett covered them for WFPL. Bunning was talkative, and sometimes, these resulted in entertaining sound bites.

Bunning was asked about the poll numbers during his weekly conference call with reporters Tuesday. The Republican would say only that the poll was indeed conducted. He didn’t mince words when asked what that means.

“That means it’s none of your g**d*** business,” he said, laughing.

The conference calls stopped last year, and Bunning quotes–serious and not–aren’t as easy to come by. But recently, Bunning spoke at a northern Kentucky fundraiser for Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul.

Al Cross wrote about it for Politico. Bunning had some of unfiltered words for everyone, from President Barack Obama:

“President Obama doesn’t know a darn thing about Kentucky.”

…To Democratic candidate Jack Conway:

“a poor little rich boy [who] never worked a day in his life, except as a lawyer”

…To Rand Paul himself:

“Rand Paul can succeed me and not do a great job.”

“In other words, he can succeed me in spite of himself.”

These are essentially the tropes of the campaign, and it’s unlikely this will give the Democrats as much ammo some of Bunning’s saltier language in the Senate. However, perhaps they can make hay out of Bunning’s statement that Rand Paul will continue the Senator’s voting record, if elected.

James Fallows of The Atlantic says this of Senator Mitch McConnell‘s recent block of several presidential appointments:

This is an insane way to do the nation’s business. (I write this having spent the day hearing in Beijing about new energy-efficiency and infrastructure projects here — a setting that concentrates the mind. Yes, yes, despite all of China’s own problems, of governance and otherwise.) If you check out the Senate’s current “executive calendar” you see that the number of pending nominations — those already vetted and approved by committee — continues to back up . The U.S. Constitution reflected a complex balance of interests — majority v. minority, big state v. small, countryside v. city, in those days free states v. slave states. It is inconceivable that the Founders intended what Senate custom and “comity” have recently been warped into: open-ended one-man obstructionism, via “holds” and “objections” to unanimous consent.

The title of this post comes from LEO’s Phillip Bailey who, after hearing on WFPL that Senator McConnell wrote his college thesis on the Compromise of 1850, said, “How about the compromise of 2010?”

As a party leader in the legislature, McConnell’s legacy is tempered by how he steers his party to work with (or against) executives. McConnell’s work in the Senate under President George W. Bush will likely be looked upon by historians the same way Bush will be. Likewise, McConnell’s work now will be judged in light of Barack Obama‘s presidency. The GOP seems to be looking for a voice, and right now, Republicans are often most unified in saying “No” to the president. (No surprise, this is party politics, though perhaps it’s more virulent than expected at times.) Is this the time for McConnell to make a big step and broker a new compromise on some issue to bridge a growing divide? What ideas should both sides give up, and on which issue? The environment? Economic regulation? Consumer protection? There’s national crisis (the economy in this case), there are angry citizens…should Obama, McConnell and other leaders get together and party like it’s 1850?*

Under the best headline I’ve seen all day, the Courier’s Jim Carroll points out that Governor Steve Beshear was in the White House this week as former Beatle Paul McCartney was awarded the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The award ceremony was accompanied by a concert featuring Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder.

Beshear was invited by President Barack Obama, most likely for political reasons, notes Carroll (Update):

Now, the list of elected officials at this event was short. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was there, as were a half dozen other House members. Sen. Jack Reed, R-R.I., was in attendance as the only senator. And there was just one governor – Beshear.

Now, we know a few things here.

First, Obama’s job approval ratings aren’t great in Kentucky.

Second, he doesn’t target Kentucky for any special attention, unlike key potential swing states like Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. As a matter of fact, the president hasn’t been to one event in Kentucky since he entered the White House.

Third, we don’t believe Obama and Beshear are really close buddies. But we don’t know that for sure.

So while the rest of us wait for the Eagles (anathema to Lebowskis), the Governor hangs out with the guy who made an Outkast video 25 years before Outkast, a noted sunglasses model and Stevie Wonder.


The Atlantic’s James Fallows says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is weakening America by holding up Presidential appointments. The appointees, says Fallows, need to be in place and working on solving the country’s problems.

As you may have heard elsewhere, the Obama Administration has been relatively slow in vetting and choosing nominees for many of its important posts — but then has encountered extreme slowness from the Senate in approving the appointments once they get made. If you go to this White House site, you’ll find a searchable, sortable list of all 820+ nominations and appointments made so far in the Administration; about 240 have not even come up for a Senate vote. If you go to this U.S. Senate site and click on the link for “Executive Calendar,” you’ll get a long PDF showing in its “nominations” section the scores and scores of people who have come through committees but not received a vote on the Senate floor. (Direct link to the PDF here.)

On Thursday afternoon, just before its Memorial Day recess, the Senate had planned to consider about 80 of these nominations as a group. They all had been through financial and security vetting; they had been through committee consideration; they were headed for jobs that in many cases now stood vacant; they were ready to go. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, moved for approval by unanimous consent, apparently believing that a deal to clear out the huge backlog had been struck. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, begged to differ. Hewas still sore about the recess appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Therefore he wouldn’t agree to the en-bloc vote.

Your thoughts? You can read the entire piece (complete with excerpts from the floor debate) here.

From the AP:

The U.S. Secret Service said Johnny Logan Spencer Jr. of Louisville wrote and posted the poem, titled “The Sniper,” on a site called

Special Agent Stephan M. Pazenzia said the poem describes a gunman shooting and killing a “tyrant,” later identified as the president.

Spencer is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin on Friday for a detention hearing. He’s in federal custody charged with making threats against the president and threatening to kill or injure a major candidate for the office of the president.

You know those browser games you love playing at the office home? Well, now you can destroy your productivity and act out violent conspiracies about the New World Order.

Mother Jones is reporting on the Obama Coup game:

It’s January 2011. The GOP is about to assume control of both houses of Congress—having been voted in by a public deeply suspicious of Democrats after President Barack Obama conducted clandestine talks with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada. But two days before the new conservative majority is to be sworn in, Obama announces that this Congress will not be seated, that the United States (a creation of “racists and warmongers”) will be replaced by a North American Union, that the US Constitution will be dissolved, and that private ownership of firearms will be outlawed (as part of a United Nations treaty banning firearms globally). In response, millions rise up, and the Revolution begins.

But why should paranoid Obama-haters have all the fun?

…the site’s designers despise Democrats and Republicans, and they will show their political balance next week, when the site introduces an “Ambush Bush” scenario, which will give players the chance to hunt down the ex-president in Texas.

Maybe we should all stick to Gears of War.

A discussion of race and politics. It should be very interesting to hear scholars revisit the topic 10 months after Obama’s inauguration. Listen and call in.

It was widely agreed that the election of Barack Obama in November 2008 was a historically significant moment. The United States had its first African-American president, and it seemed even those with political differences knew that meant something. But what exactly did it mean? On Wednesday we’ll look at how Obama’s election and presidency has changed the conversation about race in this country – and how it hasn’t.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has approved President Obama‘s nominee for the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Joseph Main‘s nomination will now go to the full Senate.

If approved, Main will run MSHA, which oversees the safety of surface and underground mining operations, which Kentucky has in droves. Main’s appointment will likely be a major boost for mine safety advocates.

From McClatchy:

“I don’t think Obama could have chosen anyone better for the job,” said Tony Oppegard, a Lexington, Ky., lawyer and mine-safety advocate. “Joe has done more for mine safety in the U.S. than anyone in the past 25 to 30 years.”

Oppegard said Main’s nomination “signals a change of direction in terms of mine safety in this country. It’s a 180 degree shift from the policies of the Bush administration and its favoring of coal industry executives.”

Indeed, coal industry executives were disappointed on Monday.

“It’s going to be frustrating having somebody with an agenda that is pro-union,” said Bill Caylor, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association. “We’re not looking forward to it.”

Disclosure: My father worked for MSHA for decades.

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