That Day I Became a Democratic Stooge

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The Democratic sit-in included one of the most embarrassing moments of my career.

WASHINGTON –  Paul Singer writes: The House Democrats’ anti-gun sit-in last week included one of the more embarrassing moments of my journalism career.

The Democrats had grabbed the House floor for what amounted to an impromptu 25-hour filibuster to protest the unwillingness of Republican leadership to call a vote on gun control legislation.

“The Democrats were pumping up their energy. They congratulated each other and cheered. The partisans who had packed the public visitors’ gallery cheered with them — a no-no when the House is in session.”

This was a new and unusual tactic, and nobody had any idea how it was going to end. The House doesn’t have a filibuster, so it also doesn’t have a way to end one. That makes it newsworthy.

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As the protest dragged on through the day Wednesday, the rows of stools in the press gallery — up above the House floor — usually nearly empty during House business, had become full. This had become a full-blown Event, and more than two dozen reporters sat in the gallery documenting it.

“The lawmakers then turned to the galleries and thanked the visitors for their support, and everybody cheered some more.”

At around 9 p.m., as they were girding for House Republicans to return and attempt to re-establish control of the floor, the Democrats were pumping up their energy. They congratulated each other and cheered.

“And then, my moment of shame. Someone on the floor called out thanks to the press, saying our reporting had spread the word and fueled their protest.”

The partisans who had packed the public visitors’ gallery cheered with them — a no-no when the House is in session. Visitors are supposed to sit quietly, but by this hour many of the rules of the House floor had long since been thrown out the window.

RETROSPEKTIVE JERRY LEWIS The Stooge (dt: Der Pr¸gelknabe), Norman Taurog, USA, 1952 *** Local Caption *** The Stooge, , Norman Taurog, USA, 1952, V'13, Retrospektive

“But to be fair, when Republicans voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare, that was a “stunt,” too. And of course, they were sending fundraising appeals every time.”

The lawmakers then turned to the galleries and thanked the visitors for their support, and everybody cheered some more. That was another no-no — lawmakers are prohibited from acknowledging the galleries from the floor.

“Congress is legislating less and less, and much of what it does nowadays is a stunt.”

And then, my moment of shame. Someone on the floor called out thanks to the press, saying our reporting had spread the word and fueled their protest. The 100-or-so Members of Congress on the floor and the several hundred partisans in the gallery cheered for us.

My colleagues and I were mortified. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Justice Was Served in Ferguson—This Isn’t Jim Crow America: Ron Christie

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson

‘Civil rights’ figures decided long ago that the only fair outcome would be indictment. But that was driven by ideology, not facts

Ron Christieron-christie writes: The day of reckoning has arrived not just in Ferguson, Missouri, but also across America. For some, the grand jury proceedings to determine whether the shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer was justified was never about seeking justice. As widely anticipated in the media, the jury of nine whites and three blacks elected not to indict based on the evidence before them. Sadly, hundreds if not thousands of individuals descended upon this small St. Louis suburb to agitate for an outcome based on their ideology rather than the facts under consideration by the grand jury.

“Last year, 76 law-enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and I’m hard pressed to name one of them.”

Even though the grand jury elected not to find Officer Darren Wilson responsible for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, sadly, I never believed that the gathering protesters gathered in Ferguson were seeking justice or a peaceful resolution to the case, which has roiled race relations in America to levels I haven’t seen in decades.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis

“That Rep. Lewis, who was beaten to within an inch of his life in Selma, would draw a moral equivalence between violence on the part of police officers who viciously beat nonviolent civil-rights protesters with the encounter between Brown and Wilson, where the facts indicated the teen had struggled to wrest control of the officer’s gun, is disheartening.”

How else to explain those chanting “No Justice, No Peace” in the days leading up to the grand jury’s determination? The only justice sought by those folks involved a conviction against Wilson for killing the “gentle giant” teen. Evidence that favored Wilson’s account—that he tragically shot the teen in self-defense—was conveniently ignored, as doing so neatly fit into the narrative that whites are racist, white police officers assassinate blacks at their leisure, and America is as prejudiced toward people of color as it was in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

Joe Biden, John Lewis, Terri Sewell, Jesse Jackson

“Disheartening because Lewis’ words will give strength and solace to those who believe in the narrative that our country remains overwhelmingly prejudiced toward blacks, instead of confronting the sad reality that almost all shootings involving black men in America today take place at the hands of other black men rather than white police officers.”

Don’t take my word on this. Consider the incendiary words spoken by civil-rights hero and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) last week, when he observed:“When we were beaten on that bridge in Selma, the people couldn’t take it, when they saw it, when they heard about it, when they read about it. There was a sense of righteous indignation. And if we see a miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, we’re going to have the same reaction that people had towards Selma.”

Jim Young/Reuters

Jim Young/Reuters

[Photos: Fury at the Ferguson Decision]

I had yet to be born to observe the events of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965. On that date, some 600 civil-rights marchers departed Selma and shortly thereafter were met by state troopers who attacked them with dogs, billy clubs, and tear gas.

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However, one can hardly equate the Jim Crow Deep South, fraught with systemic racism, poll taxes, literacy taxes, and segregated accommodations, to a tragic shooting some 50 years later in which none of us were privy to the facts of the encounter between a police officer and teen in Ferguson. Read the rest of this entry »