Friday, January 11, 2013

The Rebirth Of Gabby Giffords As Gun Control Warrior?


There's no question about the horror and tragedy of the mass murder scene in Tucson that killed 6 people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabby Giffords who was holding a public meeting with constituents at the time. An ex-Republican, Giffords was a Blue Dog Democrat who tended to frequently vote with the GOP against progressive measures. Back before she was thrust into the role of martyr and American heroine, I was always mentioning her in articles about Democrats who supported reactionary positions, like this:
Yesterday afternoon a resolution was introduced in the House to allow debate to begin on two bills, H.R. 5486, the Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act and H.R. 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act. The resolution passed 228- 186, every single Republican hewing to their obstructionist line and joined in that by 20 conservative Democrats, all but 3 of whom are Blue Dog caucus members. The Boehner Boys yesterday were extreme corporate shill Melissa Bean (IL), Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Kathleen Dahlkemper (Blue Dog-PA), Gabby Giffords (Blue Dog-AZ), Debbie Halvorson (IL), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD), Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA), Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ), Scott Murphy (Blue Dog-NY), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH). and, of course, Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS).
And this:
The public strongly supports working on neglected infrastructure as a way to help pull the country out of the economic crisis Bush has left behind. As desperate partisan hacks on the far right do the bidding of their corporate paymasters, Republicans are solidifying against President Obama's Stimulus legislation. Late yesterday every single Republican in the House and 27 Blue Dog Democrats (and fellow travelers) voted against the first step in Obama's plan. For the record, these are the Democrats who crossed to aisle to betray Obama:

Mike Arcuri (Blue Dog-NY)
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)- who would have lost his primary had not Obama campaigned for him
Marion Berry (Blue Dog-AR)
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)
Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL)
Bobby Bright (reactionary-AL)
Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA)
Travis Childers (reactionary-MS)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Henry Cuellar (reactionary-TX)
Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN)
Brad Ellsworth (Blue Dog-IN)
Gabby Giffords (Blue Dog-AZ)
Parker Griffith (reactionary-AL)
Paul Kanjorski (PA)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD)
Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC)
Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA)
Michael Michaud (Blue Dog-ME)
Walt Minnick (reactionary-ID)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Loretta Sanchez (Blue Dog-CA)
Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC)
Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH)
Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS)
And like this:
The House started voting on the procedural legislation for a bill by Barney Frank and John Conyers, HR 1106, that would allow bankruptcy judges to write down the principal and interest payments on mortgages for primary residences. Two passed-- against 100% Republican opposition and with loads of Blue Dogs crossing the aisle. The second of the two votes was uncomfortably close, 224-198.

All 172 House Republicans, voted against bringing it up. They were joined-- in the two procedural votes-- by a gaggle of mostly reactionary anti-working families Democrats, regular suspects and Chamber of Commerce sellouts like Jason Altmire (PA), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Marion Berry (Blue Dog-AR), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN), Mike Ross (AR), Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS), Harry Teague (NM), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Ben Chandler (KY), Brad Ellsworth (Blue Dog-IN), Gabby Giffords (Blue Dog-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Walt Minnick (ID), Mike Michaud (Blue Dog-ME), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), etc.
Almost every single one of these reactionary Democrats has since been forced out of office. Dozens have been defeated and others, facing the prospect of certain defeat, resigned and became lobbyists. In 2010's Great Blue Dog Apocalypse, her last election before the assassination attempt, Arizona voters sent two of her ConservaDem colleagues packing-- Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick-- but Giffords managed to hang on, albeit with less than 50% of the vote. She managed to beat a far right extremist, Jesse Kelly, 49-47%, and would have certainly become a top priority for NRCC attention in 2012.

Now Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have announced the formation of a PAC to fight NRA candidates in the 2014 congressional midterms. They're aiming to take on the NRA, which-- as Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show Wednesday evening-- has been failing spectacularly in electing candidates anyway. Watch:

Pretty powerful stuff, right? But is Giffords the right person to head the anti-NRA effort? Maybe. As a Blue Dog and New Dem, her political career has been primarily as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution to problems. Mayor Bloomberg's PAC has been the most successful in fighting the NRA, taking on their candidates directly and defeating them. He is rumored to be backing Giffords efforts.
"We are going to provide support and backing for candidates in U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate races that are attacked by the NRA for taking moderate positions on commonsense gun-safety issues," said Steve Mostyn, the Houston trial lawyer tabbed by Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, to handle the group's finances, in an interview with Reuters. "We will also field candidates."

..."We're just getting things started, but I've had conversations with a dozen other large political donors who have worked with me on other issues in the past, and I've had a good response," Mostyn said.

The group hopes to hit its $16-20 million fundraising goal ahead of the congressional primary cycle next year.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in USA Today introducing the group, Giffords and Kelly say that while they are gun owners and support the Second Amendment, they believe laws should "require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence."
Here's where it gets hairy. Almost all of Giffords congressional Blue Dog allies are rabid NRA supporters. Is she going to be an effective opponent for creeps like, say, Blue Dog co-chair John Barrow of Georgia. This was his big campaign ad in the last cycle; will Giffords take him on in 2014?

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