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Maureen Dowd looks as the disconnect between the Senate of the lobbyists, and the wishes of the people, and somehow concludes the fault is at the other end of the street.

How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.

It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him.

Somehow I had the idea that Congress was there to represent the people, and that when 90 percent of the people want something, it's shouldn't be on the president to make it happen. I had no idea that only the president was accountable to the public.
President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things. He chooses not to get down in the weeds and pretend he values the stroking and other little things that matter to lawmakers.
So, using emotion, say pointing out the families in Newtown who lost beautiful children, isn't how adults do things? Adults need their pitiful egos petted and their little things stroked? That, Mo, may be the single most idiotic paragraph I've read. Ever. Tell you what, let's see how much ego-boo these assholes get when we bench them for not doing what the voters want.

Come on in, before I say something that shouldn't be on the front page on Sunday morning.

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You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Bill Daley delivers some blame with better aim.

I want my money back.

Last October, I gave $2,500 to support Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign to become North Dakota’s junior senator. A few weeks later, she won a surprise victory.

I have had a long career in government and politics, but I don’t donate heavily to political campaigns. When I contribute, it’s because I know the candidate well or am really impressed with the person. Heidi Heitkamp was one of the latter: She struck me as strong-willed, principled and an independent thinker.

But this week, Heitkamp betrayed those hopes. ...

Polling has shown that nine in 10 Americans and eight in 10 gun owners support a law to require every buyer to go through a background check on every gun sale. In North Dakota, the support was even higher: 94 percent. Yet in explaining her vote, Heitkamp had the gall to say that she “heard overwhelmingly from the people of North Dakota” and had to listen to them and vote no. It seems more likely that she heard from the gun lobby and chose to listen to it instead.

Carl Hiaasen touches base with the "reasonable" GOP alternative.
Marco Rubio showed his true yellow colors last week, joining 45 other cowards to defeat Senate legislation designed to stop criminals from buying firearms online and at gun shows.

The vote was nauseating. So is Rubio.

A few days earlier, he’d admitted to Fox News that he hadn’t read the complete bill that would expand federal background checks of gun buyers, but he was opposing it anyway.

Other pertinent materials that Rubio obviously didn’t read included a recent New York Times sampling of nut jobs, convicted criminals and even one fugitive who purchased assault rifles and other weapons over the Internet.

Funny how some people actually hold senators responsible for their own actions. It's almost treating them like... adults.

Ross Douthat hits one of those rare weeks when I agree with him.

...we discovered another world last week. Two, actually — both somewhat larger than Earth, circling a star with the sadly unromantic name of Kepler 62, 1,200 light-years away.

These planets are not the first Earth-like bodies astronomers have discovered, but their size and position make them particularly promising candidates to have liquid water — and with it, perhaps, some form of life.

But their promise only adds to a mystery that’s been building the further our probes and telescopes have pushed into the unknown. If Earth-like planets are relatively common, as scientists increasingly believe, then where are all the Earth-like civilizations?

Douthat's take on the Fermi Paradox (that "where is everyone" question) are all pretty bleak. I prefer a nursery analogy. The grown ups are keeping us out of the galactic mainstream until we mature a bit. Or maybe we just haven't learned to stroke their things. Moving on...

Thomas Friedman only makes it on this page about one every two Friedman units. So what's he up to today?

Rebuilding our strength has to start with healing our economy. In that regard, it feels as if our budget drama has dragged on for so long that it has not only been drained of all emotional energy but nobody even remembers the plot anymore. It’s worth recalling: What are we trying to do?

We’re trying to put America back on a sustainable growth track that will expand employment, strengthen our fiscal balance sheet to withstand future crises and generate resources to sustain the most needy and propel the next generation. That requires three things: We need to keep investing in the engines of our growth — infrastructure, government-financed research, education, immigration and regulations that incentivize risk-taking but prevent recklessness.

Friedman's column overfloweth with the kind of overwriting, self praise and calls for a "radical center" that you expect from the flatman, but there is this...
The best place to start is with a carbon tax.

A phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton could raise around $1 trillion over 10 years, as we each pay a few more dimes and quarters for every gallon of gasoline or hour of electricity. With that new revenue stream, we’d have so many more options. One, preferred by Republicans like the statesman George Shultz and the Nobel laureate Gary Becker, is to make the carbon tax “revenue neutral.” It could be offset entirely by a rebate or by cutting tax rates for every U.S. citizen and corporation, which would increase spending. Another option, the one I’d prefer, would devote half the carbon-tax revenues to individual and corporate tax cuts, use a quarter for new investments in infrastructure, preschool education, community colleges and research — which would create jobs now and tomorrow — and then use a quarter on deficit reduction.

Doyle McManus also talks carbon tax (and does it much better).
... here's another good bipartisan idea that the tax committees should consider: a new federal tax on emissions — more frequently called a carbon tax.

We already know that we use more energy from oil, gas and coal than we really need. (America consumes the equivalent of about 48 barrels of oil per person per year; Germany, with the healthiest economy in Europe, consumes just 26.) We know that lower consumption would make us less dependent on other countries for energy, a goal every president since Richard Nixon has pursued. We know that oil and coal produce air pollution, which we'd like to reduce. And we know that those fuels emit carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

Economists call the hidden costs of energy consumption — the prices of climate change, pollution and national security — "externalities." They're real costs, but they're not included in the price of the gasoline you put in your car or the electricity you use at home.

Phillip Roth praises the home room teacher he had when he was twelve. Doesn't sound like something that would catch your attention? Did I mention it was Phillip Roth?

NY Times Magazine talks with another of my favorites.

On a recent Saturday morning in February, two dozen or so scent hounds streamed through the streets of St. Buryan, a small village in Cornwall, England. Behind them drifted a loose formation of men and women perched atop well-groomed horses and wearing boots, breeches and hunting coats. As the fox hunt clopped through town, John le Carré, the pre-eminent spy writer of the 20th century, sipped from a paper cup of warm whiskey punch, doled out by a local pub to riders and spectators.

At 81, he remains an enviable specimen of humanity: tall, patrician, cleanlimbed, ruddy-complected. His white hair is floppy and well cut, so much so that the actor Ralph Fiennes, who starred in the 2005 film version of le Carré’s novel “The Constant Gardener,” badgered him for the name of his barber.

le Carré comes off as crusty, snooty, and brilliant. He comes off as le Carré.

Dana Millbank is worried about the new Tea Party fan favorite.

Is there nobody who can tell Ted Cruz to shut up?

The young senator from Texas has been on the job for about 100 days, but he has already turned the Senate’s ancient seniority system upside down and is dominating his senior Republican colleagues. He’s speaking for them on immigration, guns and any other topic that tickles his fancy; Republican leaders are seething at being outshone yet are terrified of challenging him.

...

GOP lawmakers encouraged the rise of the tea party, which now dominates Republican primaries and threatens the same leaders who nurtured it. Cruz’s fellow Texan, John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, could face a primary challenge next year and therefore can’t afford to cross Cruz, who beat an establishment Republican in the 2012 primary. Likewise, the Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is up for reelection and has to keep on the good side of tea party favorites such as Sen. Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, and Cruz.

Perhaps those leaders are too busy getting stroked to bother with Cruz. (No, I'm not letting that go.)

Leonard Pitts checks in on the other hand on the GOP tiller.

Rand Paul did just fine at Howard University, thank you very much. Or at least, that’s how he remembers it.

Paul, GOP senator from Kentucky, told the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday that his recent visit to Howard didn’t go so bad at all. He said any perception to the contrary was created by — all together now — the “left-wing media.”

Knowing what we do about the political right’s capacity for self-deception, we may trust that he’s telling it like it is — or at least, telling it like he believes it to be.

But reality-based Americans know it wasn’t left-wing media that insulted students at the historically black school by acting as if a visit to their campus was like a visit with headhunters. “Some have said that I’m either brave or crazy to be here,” Paul said, somehow resisting the urge to add, “Me come-um in peace.”

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Apr 20, 2013 at 09:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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